Shaw Theatres, the second largest cinema operator in Singapore, has recently launched a pay-per view service called KinoLounge.
KinoLounge will stream specially curated (read: niche, arthouse) movies — many of which will not otherwise be shown in cinemas and will be exclusive to the service. It’ll also served as a venue for interactive film festival events, ‘themed’ screenings and movie parties.
The virtual cinema “doesn't replace physical cinema-going... it extends and enhances the whole milieu of movie appreciation,” says Kenneth Tan, chairman of the Singapore Film Society, in a foreword on KinoLounge’s website.
Singapore Film Society helped to curate the first batch of KinoLounge’s releases, starting with Swallow last Friday, a psychological drama about a pregnant housewife suffering from pica, a compulsive eating disorder in which people eat inedible items.
This will be followed by two documentaries: The Painter and the Thief (July 10), about a Czech painter who became friends with a man who stole her works; and Spaceship Earth (July 17), which follows a group of people who built a giant replica of the earth’s eco-system in 1991.
The movies cost $12.99 a pop, which is comparable to a weekend ticket. When you rent a movie, you have 14 days to start watching it; once you press play, you have 48 hours to watch the movie as many times as you want.
Shaw Theatres, which runs nine outlets here, isn’t the only exhibitor playing the VOD game. Indie exhibitor The Projector ventured into streaming ($12 a pop) in April. Last month, mm2 which operates Cathay Cineplexes, announced plans to launch Cathay CineHOME later this year.
Movie exhibitors have long been at odds with online video. And to see them getting into digital realm is a sign of how much streaming is changing the business, especially during the COVID-19 crisis which forced cinemas to close.
Cinemas here have been shuttered since March 27 and are set to make a comeback from July 13.