Upstream PH inks deal with Universal Pictures
Upstream PH has inked a deal with the Hollywood giant Universal Pictures, giving the local video-on-demand service exclusive rights to carry the American film production company’s 2021 slate and other upcoming projects.
Among the most anticipated titles to be offered by the said streaming platform in the upcoming months are: “F9” (starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez); “Last Night in Soho” (Anya Taylor-Joy), “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (Steve Carell, Lucy Lawless, Julie Andrews) and “The Croods: A New Age” (Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds).
Upstream PH will likewise have access to some of Universal Pictures’ library of classics film’s, documentaries and other releases from recent years.
“We’re so honored to be the first and only Filipino portal to be trusted by Universal Pictures to stream old and new titles, from their catalogue of blockbuster films. This is timely because the pandemic has imposed limitations on our activities and most of us find ourselves cooped up in our homes as a safety precaution,” Upstream PH executive Dondon Monteverde said.
“Our target is really the Filipino audience. We want to keep them entertained now that we still can’t go to the cinemas,” he said in a recent virtual conference. “Movie theaters will open eventually. But for now, while they’re still closed, at least we can bring you upcoming releases.” Scoring this partnership, Monteverde said, wasn’t an easy undertaking. He and his business partner, filmmaker Erik Matti, had “to go through the eye of a needle.”
Like a movie theater
“We had to review a thick stack of contracts. There are a lot of things we had to comply with. They checked our partners and looked into their track records. But the most crucial thing for them was the video platform’s infrastructure; they wanted to see what kind of system we had in place,” Monteverde related. Unlike subscription-based services like Netflix, which offers access to its content library for fixed monthly fees, Upstream PH is transactional and functions more or less like an online movie theater: It focuses more on new or current releases, which viewers can rent. The platform served as the streaming partner of last year’s QCinema fest and the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). “Streaming and similar services are still new to a lot of people. But we were surprised because the reception was quite good [for the MMFF]. We were able to sell about 180,000 to 200,000 tickets,” he said.
Upstream PH intends to further expand its offerings by partnering with more film companies, both local and international, and by producing its original material. INQ
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