Nicolas Winding Refn, India's Times Bridge Invest in Streaming Service Mubi

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The specialist film SVOD service’s other backers include China’s Huanxi Media.

Film-streaming service Mubi has signed up a couple of big-name new financial backers, Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn and India's Times Bridge.

Times Bridge, the investment arm of Indian media company The Times Group, has become the latest strategic investor in the company, Mubi said without disclosing financial details. Times Bridge has invested in the likes of AirBnB, Uber and Vice. It will bring "its insight and intelligence into the Indian marketplace and local audience trends" to the table, the companies said.

Winding Refn (The Neon Demon) produced a new brand identity for Mubi last year, with the company now saying he was also a strategic investor. Again, it didn't detail financial terms.

Since 2016, Hong Kong-listed entertainment banner Huanxi Media Group, headed by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon co-producer Dong Ping, has also been an investor in the company. 

Mubi says it has more than 8 million registered users worldwide and is available in 190 countries, with India a key country. The company says that behind the U.S. and U.K., India already represents the third-largest country in terms of traffic and registered users for the service. Mubi costs $8 (500 rupees) per month in the country.

“In India, Mubi will seek out relationships with film festivals, local producers and emerging talent who are eager to tell new stories to a global audience,” the company said.

Times Bridge will advise on Mubi's brand positioning and help it with local partnerships in India. “We are very ambitious with our prospects in India, and they [Times Bridge] have shown a highly sophisticated understanding of our business and our goals in the region,” said Mubi founder and CEO Efe Cakarel, adding: "India is a unique opportunity for us to engage with a passionate community with deep cultural ties to film."

“Mubi is an original idea with a decade’s worth of proven appeal amongst fans of independent cinema worldwide,” said Times Bridge CEO Rishi Jaitly. “Film is inextricably linked to India’s heritage and, in a country with rapidly changing tastes, we are confident that the Mubi platform will delight a meaningful audience seeking high-quality, curated, global cinema,” he added.

Unlike video giants Amazon and Netflix, which employ algorithms to curate films and series, Mubi bills itself as a “hand-curated” cinema service and offers only a select 30 titles per month. Every day, a new film is added to the 30, while the oldest one is removed.

Last year, Mubi signed a multi-year deal with NBCUniversal across 11 territories while the service also theatrically released titles such as Berlinale Golden Bear winner On Body & Soul from director Ildiko Enyedi and Silver Bear winner Felicite, both shortlisted for the Oscars best foreign-language category.