Demand Film has announced a partnership with Indian-based VKAAO that will see expansion of Demand’s network to an eighth territory, and one of the largest cinema-going countries in the world. The alliance with VKAAO also will ensure a pipeline of quality Indian films (exclusive titles as well as classics) for the 7 markets in which Demand Film already operates as well as creating an opportunity for Demand.film acquisitions to be seen on the sub-continent.
Barbara Connell, COO of Demand Film who brokered the deal said, “The Indian film community is a globally significant one, ranked number 6 in the world at $1.58 billion USD (Australia by comparison is #10 at $.95 billion USD). More importantly for us, however, will be the reciprocal access to films and markets.”
David Doepel, CEO, commented that the expansion is also quite different for the company as they are choosing to partner with an already existing company rather than directly enter the territory. “The complexity of the country’s film market coupled with VKAAO’s expertise and their own joint venture with PVR, the largest cinema chain in India, mean a rapid market entry and the right business decision,” he said.
Vaibhav Lal, Co-founder of VKAAO, agreed that the opportunity is a win-win for both organisations. “Access to a company that shares the same ethos and business model as us and that has the largest footprint globally will bring significant value to the filmmakers that sign with us. We are also excited to have access to new titles that will work in the Indian marketplace. We have a rich and varied and discerning audience and the stereotype of just Bollywood is not an accurate one,” said Lal.
Case in point are the two titles launching on Demand Film in all territories: Once Again and Lift Boy and a series of upcoming documentary titles, including Plastic Peloton and Natalie Portman’s Eating Animals, which will release simultaneously on VKAAO in India and on Demand Films site in all its other territories.
Vkaao is backed by PVR, India’s Biggest Cinema Chain and BookMyShow, India’s biggest entertainment ticketing platform.
Australia’s Demand.film is one of the world’s largest cinema-on-demand chain and operates in seven countries and possesses a global network of over 2,500 cinemas enabling a reach of over 500 million.
Demand.film offers independent films an opportunity to be seen in cinemas by crowdsourcing an audience.
Andrew Hazelton, also a co-founder and director of the company and spearheading North American expansion said that any member of the public can host a screening of one of the films at any one of the 2,500 cinemas in Demand’s global network. “They then work with our team and use our online tools to crowd-source an audience. If there is enough demand, the screening happens. For the filmmaker this de-risks the whole process of putting films in theatres. In other words, every screening is profitable, or it doesn’t go ahead.”
From every confirmed screening Demand.film derives revenue. First, it retains the percentage of the box office receipts that remain after it has paid the cinemas and the filmmakers and covered the costs of delivering the film file (films are no longer on film – they are all digital) to the cinema. Second, it retains a percentage of the ticket fee. Third, in some cases, it has negotiated additional rights for the films it represents. These allow Demand.film to have community screenings, play the films in other non-theatrical venues and even sometimes in airlines and increasingly non-exclusive streaming rights.
Doepel believes there is huge financial potential in the event cinema screening sphere. “The Event Cinema business has been reported as having generated gross box office of almost $500 million AUD in 2018 with a 6% annual growth rate. It’s a small fraction of the overall global box office, but it is growing at a rate faster than traditional cinema and shows no sign of slowing down.”
Demand Film is the largest cinema on demand and event cinema company in the world by footprint and the leading commercial company of its kind in Australia, New Zealand, UK, Ireland, and Canada. It believes the potential for investors is huge.
“We do of course have competitors, but we are the only ones that can simultaneously and seamlessly release in seven countries all at once. We can literally have a screening in Wellington or Auckland and then follow the time zone to Sydney, Perth, Berlin, London, Dublin, New York, Toronto, LA and Vancouver and finish up in Hawaii almost 24 hours later. Our expansion plans are relatively straightforward. We will add other countries and languages (our code base makes this a realistic scalable set of tasks) first in Europe and then in Asia and South America. With the right amount of funding by the end of 2020, we can double the number of countries we are currently in. We have cinemas and people on the ground already identified,” said Doepel.