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Asian VoD Platform HOOQ Expands Local Film, Series Production

Variety logo Variety 4/27/2017 Patrick Frater
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HOOQ, the Asian streaming video platform backed by two Hollywood studios, is expanding a drive into local content production. Among its newest titles is “Marlina The Murderer in Four Acts,” which will play next month in the Directors Fortnight section of the Cannes film festival.

“Marlina” is directed by Mouly Surya,a musician and film maker who is considered one f the hottest talents from Indonesia. The film stars Marsha Timothy and Dea Pan and is a co-production with Cinesurya, Kaninga Pictures, Sashaand Co Production, Astro Shaw, and Purin Pictures.

HOOQ, which has the backing of Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. as well as Singaporean telco, Singtel, launched two years ago. Based in Singapore, it currently operates in five countries, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and India.

Its first local production “On The Job,” is directed by acclaimed Filipino director Erik Matti. Co-produced with Reality Entertainment, its pilot episode will be released as a feature film in August, followed six weeks later by a 5-part series. The story deals with crime, deceit and struggles within The Philippines’ underbelly.

Another finished picture is “Critical Eleven,” an adaptation of Ika Natassa’s best-selling Indonesian romantic drama “Ada Apa Degan Cinta?” The film title is derived from an aviation term referring to the most dangerous periods of an airplane flight, and the story starts with a chance encounter on a plane. It is directed by Monty Tiwa and made as a co-production between Starvision, Servia Plus, Legacy Pictures, HOOQ and Telkomsel. It debuts in Indonesian cinemas from May 10.

Taking a lighter turn is “Sweet 20,” an Indonesian remake of the hit Korean body swap movie “Miss Granny.” Directed by Ody C. Harahap, the comedy drama was produced with Starvision and Korea’s CJ Entertainment, which has already sold the property as a remake in China and Vietnam. It will premiere in Indonesian cinemas in June, before transitioning online.

A second project from The Philippines is ‘The T Party,’ an 8-part rom com series built around a fictional online dating app. Set to debut directly on HOOQ at the end of the year, it includes directors Joyce Bernal and Marvin Agustin.

The company does not disclose its metrics, but describes itself as the largest video-on-demand service in South East Asia. Acquired and original local content is viewed as key to attracting and retaining subscribers in the region, and gives local players the chance to gain traction while global giants Amazon and Netflix are still relatively week in SE Asia. Adding to the company’s proposition, HOOQ this month began offering subscribers one free transactional video per month. The move is intended as both a client acquisition strategy and as way of quickly refreshing its catalog.

The local content strategy was given a further boost this week. At the APOS convention in Indonesia, HOOQ launched a film competition, the HOOQ Filmmakers Guild. After a call for series or mini-series pitches, the company will shortlist five projects to be made as $30,000 pilots that will air online. The one that subscribers vote as the best will be made as a full series. Applications can be made until August, with the competition to film makers from Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia.

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