H.B. Naveen, founder of Indonesia’s Falcon Pictures, talks about a market on fire, the rise and rise of local storytelling and IP creation, and his own streaming reality.
Indonesia’s film industry is on fire, with north of 100 films a year since 2014 across everything from slapstick to teen pregnancy, upwards of 50 million cinema admissions in 2018 and rising fast, and the expectation that theatrical screens will leap from last year’s 1,700 to around 2,500 by 2020. Flowing from there is a treasure trove of domestic rights that could, with the right approach in the right conditions, power a viable direct-to-consumer streaming business. Some might say it’s already happening.
Falcon Pictures’ founder/executive producer, H.B. Naveen, says he is as close as anyone. His streaming movie platform, Klikfilm, now has 1.5 million paying subs accessing titles from Falcon’s own blockbuster theatrical library as well as acquisitions. In its nine years since entering the film business “because we needed content for our technology platform”, Falcon has released some of the country’s biggest movies, including Warkop DKI.
So far, Falcon has produced about 70 movie titles and acquired another 250. The company takes about 30% of the domestic box office, with about 12 million to 13 million admissions a year and rising.
Naveen highlights his marketing-led approach built on hard audience data, and says he is dialing up direct access to Indonesian consumers with fintech partnerships, such as Grab/Ovo, that reduce his reliance on telcos. “It’s very very hard to be telco dependent,” he says, citing bundles, low prices, being churned out of the system every few months, and telcos that have their own priorities. “For the last eight years we have been a telco product and service. Now we are selling our movies [direct] for 35 or 40 cents on a weekly subscription basis.”
His latest approach is powered by digital technology and built on a sachet principle backed by years of theatrical box office and marketing experience. Not only is he not fazed at all by decades-worth of pathetic subscription-TV performance, he’s already proved that people will pay – and has reaped the benefits.
“There are 100 million people buying movie tickets in Indonesia a year, paying between US$3-US$5 a time. That’s up to US$500 million a year people are spending, in small amounts. Indonesia is a sachet economy. 80%-90% percent of sachet products do well... the sachet principle is very very important... if you’re able to pay three to five dollars to watch a movie every week, you are able to pay 20 or 30 cents for a movie service subscription,” he says.
Evolution, for him, is “not what I want, it’s what the consumers say they want or what they react to”. He talks about HBO doing incredibly well, initially by aggregating theatrical films. “Then they evolved... we will evolve too”. Naveen firmly believes Indonesia has all the stories it needs to continue to power theatrical and streaming success. “We are not lesser storytellers than Hollywood,” he says. “We have an older culture of storytelling, but we sometimes let Hollywood define the content business.”
Published in ContentAsia's Issue Seven 2019, 29 November 2019