Movi(e)ng with the times
Upping its 'watch-on-the-go' game, FilMe has penetrated the UAE market and is emerging as a force to be reckoned with
It seems natural that a digital concept set to shift the paradigm of movie watching has been introduced in the technology hub of the region. Over the last year, theatres have become practically obsolete and OTT services have been growing stronger. Into this booming arena enters the disruptor FilMe, a first-of-its-kind retail movie viewing experience, endeavouring to satiate cinephiles all over the country.
To penetrate the Middle East market, the Australia-based tech pioneer has strategically partnered with the media house Khaleej Times in a trailblazing move, to offer a 'first day, first show' experience, right at readers' fingertips.
All one has to do is simply scan the QR code next to the movie review with their smartphones on print, and on the digital channels, a click will suffice. Once scanned/clicked, the 'e-cinema' experience begins in less than 10 seconds. FilMe has partnered with leading Bollywood and regional film studios in South India to bring the latest films to people's pockets. This exclusive partnership with Khaleej Times will allow FilMe to premier films directly to readers across the UAE, GCC and beyond. Customers need not sign up for subscriptions or download any application; just scan or click and watch.
FilMe is the brainchild of Dr Abhishek Shukla, founder and CEO of FilMe. Dr Shukla developed and shot a movie from scratch for four years but found an army of obstacles in his path to get it onto the silver screen and be seen by the public. This is the bedrock upon which he built the technology behind FilMe. His motivation was to help smaller and regional producers in India reach a wider audience without going through any middlemen.
The idea is that the customer can pick and choose what they desire to watch. The present-day OTT platforms offer a subscription-based model, many with exclusive content. This restricts their reach as many customers don't have the resources to commit to multiple OTT platforms, especially since they will probably only watch a fraction of the available content. FilMe solves this problem.
Faisal Mushtaq, CEO of MeTime Entertainment, the exclusive distributor of FilMe in the GCC region, says: "We are the only ones offering this retail hybrid model in the world. With it, customers don't have to worry about any commitment. They can consume content as they purchase it and forget about it."
Mushtaq explains how cinema is consumed today as it waters down a chain of monetisation. First, it is released in theatres, then around eight weeks later on OTT platforms, then on satellite television and finally on YouTube for free. "FilMe is somewhere between theatres and OTT platforms and with the current scenario, we can be the platform that provides the 'first day, first show' experience, replacing theatres. We are positioning ourselves as 'e- cinema'," says Mushtaq.
Over the last year, the world has turned upside down, children are getting their education at home through their computers and most people would rather shop online than at a physical store; the digital world has accelerated massively in such a short amount of time, with no end in sight. FilMe grabbed the opportunity to bring forth a disruption in the content consumption sphere, raising the bar even further.
When it comes to competition, Mushtaq says there is none. Applications like Google Play and iTunes have a transaction-based model but require a credit card and email address input. As mentioned before, with FilMe, there is no such commitment. It is uniquely positioned with patented new technology to avoid any replicas for years to come, by which time FilMe will have evolved substantially. The company has created the ideal throne to rule from.
According to Mushtaq, Khaleej Times was the perfect partner for FilMe. "The publication house is a titan of the media industry in the UAE. For us to reach the maximum number of local residents and citizens and cover as many people as we can, Khaleej Times offers a massive reach through both print and digital mediums. The publicity that we get with them is unmatched," he explains, adding, "If we can get all these heavyweights under our belt we can truly change the game and shift the paradigm, starting with this region." This association and future ones like it provide unmatched revenue potential to movie producers as well.
To be continued.
Presently, FilMe is curating selected content in multiple regional Indian languages, specifically Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil. It recently acquired the Tamil blockbuster Master, starring Vijay and Vijay Sethupati, within 15 days of its theatrical release, as well as critically acclaimed Malayalam film, The Great Indian Kitchen. It has its eye on other regions in India as well.
"We are about to acquire rights to some Bengali films and are looking forward to including Arabic, Filipino, Pakistani and English movies to cater to the diverse culture in the UAE," says Mushtaq. Entering the UAE market was a game-changer for FilMe and now the sky's the limit. The variety of nationalities and the friendly business policies in the UAE offer FilMe ample opportunity to grow exponentially and is the perfect launchpad to the world.
Khaleej Times is a titan of the media industry in the UAE. For us to reach the maximum number of local residents and citizens and cover as many people as we can, the publication house offers a massive reach through both print and digital mediums.
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