Amazon original series “Indian Police Force” is the most binge-watched first season of an Indian original on Prime Video in the first week of its launch, the streamer said. The action-packed cop series also trended in the Top 10 titles list in 65 countries globally in the launch week. The series bowed Jan. 19. Directed by Rohit Shetty and Sushwanth Prakash, “Indian Police Force” features Sidharth Malhotra, Shilpa Shetty Kundra and Vivek Oberoi in lead roles, along with Shweta Tiwari, Nikitin Dheer, Rituraj Singh, Mukesh Rishi, and Lalit Parimoo in pivotal roles.
Sushant Sreeram, country director, Prime Video, India, said: “Our collective intent with the show was not only to entertain audiences but also pay an ode to the many men and women in uniform who have contributed to building our great nation. The success of the series is a testament that the show and its intended spirit has resonated with audiences in India and globally.”
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Rohit Shetty added: “My fans have loved my cop films over the years, and it gives me immense joy to transport my craft of storytelling and action filmography to the world of streaming through ‘Indian Police Force.’ I’m thrilled with the love and appreciation that the show has garnered so far not only in India but also in several other countries around the globe on Prime Video.”
France’s Canal+ Group, which owns 31.7% of South African pay-tv group MultiChoice, has made a non-binding offer to acquire the shares it does not already own, pending regulatory approvals. Canal+ will offer ZAR105 ($5.61) per MultiChoice ordinary share, representing 40% premium on MultiChoice’s closing share price on Jan. 31.
“It is the ambition of Canal+ to create an African media business with enhanced scale, which can thrive in a competitive international market, better serve its consumers with a world leading offering of sports, local and global content, and ensure that Africa can tell her story to a global audience on her own terms,” Canal+ said in a statement. “However, the media industry in which MultiChoice is operating is becoming increasingly globalized and competitive, with regional media companies having to compete with the firepower of global media titans, with enormous resources to invest in content, marketing and technology. Scale is the only way to survive and thrive in this environment.”
Sony Music Entertainment has appointed Kenny Ong as its new managing director for Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and special projects Southeast Asia. Ong will spearhead the company’s expansion and strategic development and champion the careers of Southeast Asian artists. He was previously the CEO of Malaysia’s Astro Radio and concurrently director of Astro Media Solutions. Ong also led the Southeast Asian expansion for Universal Music Group in his previous role.
“Our region is poised for continued growth, and to seize the opportunity it will require more creativity and diligence,” said Shridhar Subramaniam, president of corporate strategy and market development, Asia and Middle East, Sony Music Entertainment. “With a proven track record of forging partnerships, driving audience engagement and putting artists first, Kenny possesses a deep understanding of the diverse cultural nuances and musical preferences and we are delighted to welcome him.”
Ong added: “Together, we will create compelling experiences and forge meaningful connections with artists and audiences across the region through the power of collaboration and musicality.”
BACK IN BLACK
Wanda Film, China’s largest cinema operator, rebounded back into profit in 2023, after recording losses in COVID-struck 2022. In estimates posted to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, the company said that adjusted net profits for 2023 would come in between RMB700 million to RMB1 billion ($98.8 million – $141 million), compared with adjusted losses of RMB2.08 billion ($294 million) in 2022.
The company claimed gross box office of RMB9.64 billion ($1.36 billion, excluding service fees), or close to 17% of nationwide cinema revenues, derived from 186 million ticket sales. Its Hoyts chain Australia recorded box office revenues of RMB1.40 billion ($198 million), up 13%, from ticket sales, which increased 5% to 16.2 million.
At year end Wanda owned 905 cinema complexes with 7,546 theaters in China. And it operated a further 196 complexes with 1,390 screens. Hoyts had 61 complexes and 529 screens.
BUSAN’S NEW BOSS
The Busan International Film Festival said Thursday that it had confirmed Park Kwang-su as its new chairman. His nomination was announced earlier this month and he was the only candidate. Park was among the festival’s original founders and its deputy director for three years. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Pusan Project Plan, now known as the Asian Project Market) and the Asian Contents & Film Market. His four-year term starts from Feb. 2 and can be renewed one time.
The festival this year will run Oct. 2-11.
GO TO TAIWAN
HBO Go, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Asian streaming service, has been added to the TV channels and streaming package offered by Taiwan Mobile. A discount subscription will be offered until Feb. 14.
The move comes in time for the Lunar New Year holidays and the upload of new Taiwanese-produced HBO Asia original series “The Accidental Influencer” from Feb. 10. The comedy-drama series starring Kuo Shu-Yao, follows the life of Red Ho, whose hope for a perfect life is dashed when she is dumped by her boyfriend on her birthday. She turns to social media to air her grievances and is met with a surprising outcome, where she rediscovers her independence and embarks on an unexpected journey.
MetFilm School has been acquired by BIMM University-owners BIMM Group. The school has campuses in Leeds, Berlin, and London’s historic Ealing Studios. Among skills courses on offer are working in virtual production and AI. In conjunction with BIMM University it will now also provide enhanced networking opportunities.
MetFilm Production, Sales and Distribution were not involved in the acquisition but will continue to operate as partner companies while Jonny Persey will continue as the company’s chair in addition to his role as director of MetFilm School.
“Through this strategic collaboration in creative education, we seek to leverage the complementary strengths of both institutes, addressing the skills gap in the film industry and empowering students with the essential tools they need to thrive in an ever-evolving landscape,” said David Jones-Owen, CEO and Vice-Chancellor of BIMM University.
Speciality label Eureka Entertainment is releasing martial arts extravaganza “Black Mask,” starring Jet Li, on Blu-ray fully uncut from a new 2K restoration. Directed by Daniel Lee and produced by Tsui Hark, the 1996 film follows Tsui Chik (Li) a librarian who leads a quiet, unassuming life – or, at least, that’s what he wants people to believe. In truth, he was once a member of the 701 Squad, a group of elite combatants produced by a failed super-soldier project. In kind with his former comrades, his central nervous system has been altered to render him impervious to pain. When several of his fellow test subjects resurface and embark on a crimewave under the leadership of their former commander Hung Kuk (Patrick Lung), Tsui is forced to use his extraordinary abilities once more. Donning a costume, he sets out to face his past – as the vigilante known as the Black Mask.
The set will feature an O-card slipcase, collector’s booklet plus a bonus disc featuring an alternate Taiwanese cut and an extended version of the film. It will release in the U.K. on April 22 and in North America on April 23.
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