Demand Film expands its reach with a new partnership in India

Barbara Connell.

Cinema on-demand operator Demand Film has formed a partnership in India with Indian counterpart VKAAO, its eighth market.

In a reciprocal arrangement Demand Film will supply films and feature documentaries to VKAAO, which in turn will provide titles that will be released on Demand Film’s international network.

The news comes as Demand Film makes a public sale offering this Friday, aiming to raise a seven-figure sum via equity crowdfunding platform Birchal, to accelerate its global roll-out and ramp up the volume of releases.

VKAA0 is a joint venture between PVR Cinemas, the country’s largest circuit which is its exclusive exhibition partner, and entertainment ticket platform BookMyShow. It charges about $A4 per cinema ticket.

Chief operating officer Barbara Connell, who co-founded the Australian-based company with CEO David Doepel and North American chief Andrew Hazelton, met with VKAAO execs at a Good Pitch event in Mumbai last year, where she was scouting for documentaries.

The Indian firm is keen to widen its offering from Hollywood product and Indian titles, hence the alliance with Demand Film.

The feature docs Peloton Against Plastic, which follows filmmaker Jamie Lepre and environmental activist Paul Hellier as they embark on a five-week bicycle ride across Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand to highlight the environmental catastrophe wrought by plastic; and Natalie Portman’s Eating Animals, which looks at how animals are abused within the factory farming complex, will launch simultaneously in India and on Demand Film’s sites in its territories.

The first Indian titles which will go out via Demand Film are India-born German filmmaker Kanwal Sethi’s romance Once Again, which explores what could have happened had two lovers actually met; and Jonathan Augustin’s debut feature The Lift Boy, which follows the ups-and-downs, literally, of a 24-year-old whose father has operated the elevator in an upper-crust Mumbai building for 30 years in an effort to give his son a leg-up in life.

Doepel says: “This expansion is also quite different for our company as we are choosing to partner with an existing company rather than directly enter the territory ourselves. The complexity of the country’s film market coupled with VKAAO’s expertise and their joint venture with PVR means a rapid market entry.”

Vaibhav Lal, co-founder of VKAAO, adds: “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.”

Demand Film currently operates in seven territories: Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland and Germany. The plan is to double that by the end of 2020, initially in Italy, Spain and Scandinavia, followed by other Euro markets and Latin America.

Connell tells IF the responses to the private sale offering last Friday are very good and is confident that will continue with the public offering.