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Over the last two years a number of streaming services have launched in the United States to attract young audiences already accustomed to binge watching their favorite shows on Netflix. Now, a new company is looking to join the fray.
Blackpills, a digital media firm that produces shortform video series for millennials, is now available in the U.S. via the Apple App Store and Google Play. The free, ad-supported service is launching with 12 original shows, including one based on an idea by Luc Besson, one executive produced by Sharon Horgan and others directed by Zoe Cassavetes and Louis Leterrier. It plans to launch additional new shows every week, with the aim of launching a total of 50 originals this year.
The app, which is free to download, is aimed at young viewers and offers up bite-sized episodes about 10 minutes in length. Co-founder Patrick Holzman, a veteran of Canal+ International who started the company with Deezer founder Daniel Marhely, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the company is focused on programming that is edgy, impactful and youthful. He also wants the shows to be addictive and will offer them up through a binge-ready distribution model. The name Blackpills is even meant to conjure the image of the daily habit of taking a pill. “It’s an addiction, but a positive addiction,” he explains.
In addition to the series available at launch, Blackpills is also planning a Spring Breakers adaptation; a new season of James Franco’s Making a Scene, which was formerly at AOL; a ‘70s-set series starring Denise Richards and projects from online influencers Logan Paul and Christian Delgrosso.
Blackpills, which has offices in Paris, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv, is already available in France and other parts of Europe. The company struck a distribution deal with Vice in March for a branded channel among the media company’s own verticals, such as Munchies for food and Broadly for female-focused editorial. The Blackpills channel has been offering U.S. audiences an exclusive preview of the programming now available via the app.
A number of services for digital-first programming have entered the streaming market over the last two years. YouTube and Fullscreen both launched subscription offerings, while Verizon and Comcast released ad-supported products. But it’s unclear that there is appetite for more stand-alone apps in a streaming landscape already dominated by Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. None of these services has disclosed the size of their user base, though Verizon executives have been forthcoming that their app, go90, has struggled to gain an audience. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal recently said goodbye to the executive in charge of its comedy-focused subscription streaming app Seeso.
Holzman says Blackpills doesn’t want to be just another streaming app but a brand that millennial audiences recognize. “This is the reason we are combining different types of distribution models in addition to the stand-alone app,” he says. While many of the other services on the market are currently only available in limited markets, Holzman notes that the goal for Blackpills has always been to be a global product. While the programming is shot in English, Blackpills offers subtitles in multiple languages.
Here is the full Blackpills launch slate:
All Wrong (With Chris Marquette and Brittany Furlan) — Carlos finds himself unemployed, broke and in debt. When he finally manages to bring home a woman for a one-night stand, everything gets even worse.
Duels (With Daniela Delfino and David Brownstein) — Inspired by a recent lecture in their history class, three students decide to bring back the practice of dueling to solve their conflicts. As the videos go viral, the violence escalates and becomes a statewide issue.
Junior (Directed and created by Zoe Cassavetes, with Lucia Ribisi, Kristine Froseth, Eric Johnson, Amy Seimetz) — An unapologetic story about a teenage girl who finds herself in an unexpected love triangle with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.
Pillowtalk (Created by Mike Piscitelli and Rachael Taylor, executive producer Sharon Horgan and starring Patrick J. Adams) — A tortured bachelor trying to stay in “the light” in a world where casual sex is at his beck and call.
Pineapple (Written, directed and edited by Arkasha Stevenson and starring Ron Gilbert) — Originally premiered at Sundance Film Festival and acquired from Adaptive Studios by Blackpills, Pineapple tells the story of a small town after the daughter of a miner is assaulted in a local coal mine.
Playground (Original idea by Luc Besson) — A teenage girl joins a school for assassins and uncovers the mystery of her parents’ death.
Skinford (With Josh Brennan) — In an attempt to save his father from death, Jimmy Skinford ends up risking his own life. His only chance of survival is to be touched by an immortal woman who is buried underground.
Surrogate (Starring Emmeli Stjarnfeldt) — Jane has been recently certified as a substitute surrogate partner for sexual therapy. At the Clinic for Healthy Sex, she meets with a wide range of clients in need of help for a variety of sexual disorders.
Twiz and Tuck (Starring Twiz and Tuck) — A wild, weird, irreverent guide to settling down from the trans and gender-fluid best friends, who drew up a list of the 25 things they wanted to do before they said goodbye to their wilder days, and set off across America to check them off.
Tycoon (Directed by Louis Leterrier and written by Ben Kalifi and Erez Tadmor) — The show follows a woman who has chosen to trade a year of her life and her privacy in exchange for $5 million. All she has to do is allow a young, vengeful real estate mogul trying to win back his empire control her every move.
Virgin (Starring Georgina Leming and Sand Van Roy) — Ellie, a girl in her early 20s in a committed relationship prepares to lose her virginity to her boyfriend. Her two more sexually experienced roommates teach her everything she needs to know for the big moment.
You Got Trumped (Directed by Derek Harvie and starring Ron Sparks) — Created before the most recent U.S. election results were announced, this satire shows viewers what Donald Trump’s first 100 days in the White House might be like.
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