Art House Streamer Mubi Outlines India Launch Plans

Khamkha Photo Artist
Mubi CEO Efe Cakarel with Mumbai Film Festival creative director Smriti Kiran, festival board of trustees member Kiran Rao and festival director Anupama Chopra.

The service will include an Indian channel offering specially curated local films as it aims to carve its own niche in a competitive market dominated by majors like Netflix, Amazon and Disney's Hotstar.

London-based Mubi, which bills itself as a “hand-curated” cinema service offering a select 30 titles per month covering world cinema, art house, film classics and other prestige genres, is set for its India launch.

Speaking at a session at the Mumbai Film Festival Friday, Mubi CEO Efe Cakarel said the service will bow in India "in the next couple of weeks" and will also include a specially curated Indian channel. Like its international channel, the Indian channel will offer 30 titles per month where each day, a new film is added, while the oldest one is removed.

When asked by The Hollywood Reporter as to how much the service will cost, Cakarel said that for now, Mubi is already available as an international service at $7 (499 rupees) per month. But he added that a final India price "is still to be confirmed which we will announce soon." Given that the Indian market is already dominated by majors like Netflix, Amazon and Disney's Hotstar, Cakarel added, "We are not in a price war against Amazon or others as we offer a completely different experience which has a significant cost."

Netflix's starting monthly plan costs about $7 and the streamer also recently launched a mobile-only subscription plan at $2.8 (199 rupees) per month. Amazon and Hotstar both offer annual plans at $14 (999 rupees).

Taking a leaf from leading Indian telecom player Reliance Jio, which launched its mobile services at rock-bottom prices over two years ago, Cakarel said, "We will also offer introductory prices, which is something we learnt from Reliance Jio."

In the U.K., Mubi also offers its subscribers an option to see a selected movie at the cinemas which can be booked via its Mubi Go ticketing app. Cakarel told THR that a similar service would also be included in the India subscription plan for users who will be offered a movie every week that could include "both big titles and smaller independent titles which normally don't get wide release." Cakarel pointed that in the U.K. it has offered such films at the cinema as Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood and Pedro Almodovar's Pain and Glory.

"We have tied up with a major partner for India for this initiative as well and more details will be revealed later," added Cakarel.

At last year's Mumbai festival, Mubi had first shared its India plans after the company pacted with Times Bridge, the investment arm of one of India's leading media companies, the Times Group. In January 2018, Times Bridge took an unspecified ownership stake in Mubi.

Returning to the festival this year, some Mubi titles are also part of the program. These include Staggering Girl, a short film by Luca Guadagnino who directed Suspiria, which was streamed on the service and also released in cinemas in the U.K.

Also featured is Mubi's debut production Port Authority from first-time director Danielle Lessovitz which screened at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section.

Cakarel expanded that Mubi's foray into productions is aimed at building its own content library and that it will also get into Indian productions at some point.