×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

India’s Theatrical-on-Demand Platforms Set For Asian Expansion

Indian companies, 1018mb and Vkaao are poised to bring theatrical-on-demand cinema services to Singapore and other Asian territories in the coming months.

1018mb has set up an office in Hong Kong to explore interest in the region. Vkaao is in discussions with similar platforms in Asia-Pacific territories, and in Europe.

Both platforms are conceived as web applications, through which customers can choose from the hundreds of new films and Iibrary titles from Bollywood, Hollywood and Indian regional cinema, and decide a venue, date and time. Once a pre-set minimum number of tickets is sold, enough to cover the cost of the screening and a small profit, a theatrical screening of the chosen title becomes a reality.

Vkaao, which started operating in early 2017, was primarily set up as an on-demand theatrical outlet for repertory titles. But it quickly became a platform for independent cinema. The company is a partnership between booking giant BookMyShow and leading multiplex chain PVR.

“Making a film is relatively easy, but getting it released in theatres is a different ball-game,” Vkaao co-founder Karan Ahuja told Variety. “It’s a risky business for both the exhibitor and the filmmaker. Exhibitors rely on buzz for the movie, which is typically manifested as A-listers or Hollywood. What Vkaao does is, if we can bring enough number of people, is make it become a viable proposition.”

Ahuja says that Indian independent filmmakers nowadays are not spending money on marketing their films. Instead they spending to promote specific theatrical-on-demand screenings, so that minimum audience thresholds are met.

Vkaoo’s first big success was with the controversial political documentary “An Insignificant Man,” which was finally released in India after a long battle with the censors. “People organically began creating shows on our platform,” says Ahuja.

The company also tasted success recently with India’s entry to the Oscars, “Village Rockstars.” The film is directed by Rima Das, whose latest effort “Bulbul Can Sing” is screening at the Singapore International Film Festival.

Ahuja says that 50% of revenues go to the cinema. The filmmaker gets 40% and Vkaao the remaining 10%. Ticket prices are the same as what customers would pay for regular multiplex shows on both platforms.

Encouraged by the self-help initiatives of filmmakers such as Vinod Chopra and Anurag Kashyap, 1018mb was founded by Saurabh Devendra Singh, Saumya Tandon, Shishir Ranjan, Abhay Salve and Santosh Kumar. It started operations in early 2016, specifically as a platform for independent cinema. Its biggest successes have been the cult repertory title “Andaz Apna Apna” (1994), starring Aamir Khan and Salman Khan, and Guru Dutt’s 1957 classic “Pyaasa.”

While Vkaao has access to BookMyShow and PVR’s databases, 1018mb prides itself on its constantly evolving algorithm.

Singh argues that the social experience that a cinema provides and the personal experience of a smaller screen will continue to coexist. “There are people who are now globally making movies using an iPhone camera, which has become powerful enough for telling a story,” says 1018mb’s Singh. “We believe a larger screen is something that movies deserve, because of the complete experience.”

“The idea is also to give the customer more choice,” says Singh. And with India secured, their gaze is now outward, and to cinema fans in other territories.

More Film

  • Of Fathers and Sons

    Producer of Oscar-Nommed Syria Documentary Could Miss Awards Due to Visa Problem

    A German producer’s hopes to attend Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, where his film is up for an Oscar, look likely to be dashed by tightened U.S. Department of Homeland Security restrictions and increased bureaucracy. Hans Robert Eisenhauer is one of the producers of “Of Fathers and Sons,” director Talal Derki’s film about a radical Islamist [...]

  • Speaker of the United States House

    Nancy Pelosi, Ava DuVernay Honored at VH1 Trailblazers Event

    Cher is feeling a little better about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. “When I see Trump spew his hate and tell his gazillion lies, I get pissed off and feel uneasy at the same time,” the Oscar winner and frequent Trump critic said on Wednesday while introducing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at “VH1 [...]

  • Most Memorable Oscar Speeches in Academy

    The Most Memorable Oscar Speeches in Academy History

    No Academy Awards is complete without some emotional acceptance speeches on stage – and some political ones to boot. With just 90 seconds to make an impact, many actors have used the platform as a voice for political change, calling attention to hot-button issues like climate change and gender equality, while others have simply reveled [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Arrested, in Custody of Chicago Police

    Jussie Smollett has been arrested and faces criminal charges for allegedly filing a false police report and for disorderly conduct. Chicago police tweeted Thursday morning that the “Empire” actor was under arrest and in custody of detectives. Smollett claimed that he had been attacked by two men on Jan. 29 — he said they beat [...]

  • Billie Holiday (1915-1959, born Eleanora Fagan)

    Billie Holiday Documentary Draws Buyers as Concord Boards Project

    Concord, the successor to the Billie Holiday Estate, has boarded James Erskine’s documentary “Billie,” which tracks the iconic jazz singer’s life. Altitude Film Sales has sold the project to several territories. Also joining the project, now in post-production, is the Brazilian colorization artist Marina Amaral. Most of the filmed and still images that exist of [...]

  • My Extraordinary Summer With Tess review

    Film Review: 'My Extraordinary Summer With Tess'

    Winner of a special mention from the Berlinale Generation KPlus’ adult jury, the family-friendly, light drama “My Extraordinary Summer With Tess” is straightforward youth cinema with surprising emotional depth. Based on a prize-winning novel by Anna Woltz, a beloved Dutch writer of work for young readers, it explores family relationships and emphasizes the importance of [...]

  • UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report: Women, Minorities

    Hollywood Diversity Gains in TV but Falls Short in Movies

    Minorities and women have registered gains in several key areas of television but women continue to lag in movies, according to a report issued Thursday by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. “My basic take is that TV is improving more for minorities and women than film,” said Dr. Darnell [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content