The rapidly changing entertainment landscape is creating new strategies in the independent cinema space, changes that have only been accelerated by the pandemic. During the Variety & IndieWire broadcast room presented by Vuulr, the executives of Neon, IFC Films, Pops, Struum and Vuulr agreed that one way to understand these changes is to accept the fact that the entertainment industry, now more than ever, is a one.
“Netflix is not a global platform, it’s 18 different things around the world – no matter how many versions there are… What is popular here will not be popular in many territories across the world. world. No disrespect – does “Judge Judy” travel? I don’t know, ”said Thomas Hughes, Vuulr CEO for the Americas. “It means these streamers with global aspirations have to be something different in different territories to attract these viewers, it means you have to acquire local content in the territories to complement what you are doing.”
Vuulr was launched two years ago and serves as a global online marketplace for film and television rights. Hughes, former executive vice president of distribution for Lionsgate, joined the company in January to lead the opening of Vuulr’s Los Angeles office.
The growing role of US companies in the international space was just one topic in the broad conversation titled “The State of Independent Film in the Age of Streaming,” moderated by IndieWire Editor Eric Kohn. He was joined by Hughes, Neon’s president of distribution Elissa Federoff, president of IFC Films, Arianna Bocco, director of POPS, Marissa Hanafi, and CEO of Struum, Lauren DeVillier.
DeVillier and partners co-founded Struum as a solution to help audiences find content on smaller streaming platforms. Struum bundles movies and shows from streamers like MagellanTV and IndieFlix under one subscription.
“We cannot be an exclusively American platform. We plan to expand globally. When we look at our content partners, a lot of these companies can’t really go global because building a platform is expensive. They rely on us to distribute their content globally, ”she said. “The localization of the language, the localization of the currency, that’s a huge boost for a lot of these businesses.”
The POPS streaming service launched in Southeast Asia last year. Hanafi said the company’s original productions can help fuel an international desire for more diverse stories.
“You drown unless you really stand out with the content,” she said. “Because we are here in Asia, there are so many untold stories in multiple formats that are so varied and beautiful and separated by local vernaculars. These days, where anyone all over the world can access it if it’s made available to them, that’s a very beautiful thing.
One example is the production of LGBTQ series, groundbreaking and necessary due to the lack of on-screen representation for this community in Asia, she said.
Bocco and Federoff discussed how Neon and IFC – both national distributors – are increasingly collaborating with the tapestry of companies that distribute the same films as them across the world, which Federoff described as creating a ” thematic thread “.
“The reality is, if someone puts a trailer on YouTube, they’re going to find the international trailer if it comes out first,” Federoff said. “We want to make sure that our materials will only improve each other.”
Bocco said it also means syncing windows between distributors for a given movie and following a schedule much faster than ever before.
“Everything is much more immediate between the time we acquire a film and the time we release a film,” she said. “We have three films in Cannes, two are released in France in July just after their premieres. That deadline was too quick for us, but we’ll release them later this year and use the information we get from the French versions to tailor our press, marketing and audience engagement strategy. We are a global market with the internet and the availability of so much content, you really have to be careful about how things are received.