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New Smart Cinema Service will Bring Movies to Mobiles — While They’re Still on Cinematic Release

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A new film streaming service launched in Shenzhen on Wednesday, promising movies to your mobile phone. Nothing particularly notable about that you might think, except that Smart Cinema is promising customers the chance to be able to watch films on their phones while those films are still on general release in cinemas.

According to a report in Variety, Smart Cinema will

stream new-release movies to hundreds of millions of mobile devices in China within the theatrical window. Revenues will be considered as part of box-office earnings.

The company is headed up by Jack Gao, a former senior executive with the Dalian Wanda group. Other figures involved include Luke Xiang, a former head of WeChat Movies, according to the Variety piece. The article goes on to state that

The objective is to break through some of the many bottlenecks in the Chinese distribution and exhibition systems, and to expand the available audience. Although the country now has about 50,000 cinema screens, there are still hundreds of small towns and counties with zero or only minimal cinema penetration. Similarly, while China is now producing 900 movies per year, fewer than half find enough screens for a theatrical release.

Smart Cinema’s proposition potentially expands the first-run exhibition landscape to more than a billion venues. It also equates to a theatrical-on-demand system, where users’ intentions shape the pattern of delivery.

China’s box office has already become the biggest in the world, raking in $3.17 billion USD in the first quarter of 2018, and surpassing that of the US which failed to get over the $3 billion USD mark. But with the potential for viewers in China to watch the latest releases directly on their mobile device, that gap only seems set to widen.

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