StarzPlay SVOD Service Adds South Asian Channels in Deal With Star TV

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region SVOD service StarzPlay has signed a deal with Star TV network to feature six of its entertainment channels, expanding into the South Asian entertainment segment.

StarzPlay has introduced an all-new dedicated South Asian entertainment package that features Star Plus ME, Star Gold International, Jalsha Movies, Asianet Movies, Star Vijay International and Asianet ME channels.

“Over the years, we have built strategic partnerships to offer rich and relevant content to our diverse audience,” Maaz Sheikh, CEO of StarzPlay, said in a statement. “Our latest association with Star TV network is an expansion of our content offering as we enter the Asian entertainment space which is hugely popular and loved in this region. This new deal is dedicated to our South Asian subscribers who can enjoy the very best of TV entertainment with our new package. Star TV is a much-loved TV network in the region, and we are proud to associate with them to further expand their reach across the MENA region.”

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“We are delighted to associate with StarzPlay to offer world-class entertainment to South Asian audiences in the region,” Sudhir Nagpal, SVP and head of international business at Star India, said in a statement. “The MENA region has a large number of South Asian expatriates, and we are excited to bring our compelling and multi-lingual portfolio through the region’s leading streaming service — StarzPlay. We constantly explore opportunities to reach our audiences through new avenues and this association with StarzPlay is a step further to reach out to viewers across the Middle Eastern region.”

Subscribers can find an assortment of multi-lingual programming via the six new Star TV channels. Three cricket channels, CricLife Max, CricLife and CricLife 2, that StarzPlay already has access to through a separate deal with Etisalat also will be part of this package.

HBO Max Orders ‘Take Out’ Docuseries With Lisa Ling

HBO Max has given a six-part series order to the Max Original “Take Out,” a docuseries from Part2 Pictures that follows journalist Lisa Ling as she takes viewers behind the counter and into the lives of the people and families who run some of America’s more than 45,000 Asian restaurants.

Lisa explores the storied and complicated journey of the Asian community, past and present, at a critical time, while zig-zagging the country celebrating the joy that the little white take-out box can bring.

“It is time that we learn about a community that has been integral to America’s development but has largely been ignored by American history,” Ling said in a statement. “My own family’s path to their American dream started in a Chinese restaurant, and I cannot wait to learn the stories of those whose journey paralleled mine throughout different parts of this country.”

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“With ‘Take Out,’ we will pay tribute to the hard work and countless contributions of Asian Americans whose restaurants helped shape the cultural tapestry and cuisines of America,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, said in a statement. “Lisa is one of a few storytellers who could paint the trials and triumphs of a community as told through the lens of a restaurant.”

“Take Out” is produced by Part2 Pictures with executive producers Ling and David Shadrack Smith.

“This has been a long-standing passion project that feels as relevant as ever,” Smith said in a statement. “It’s a chance to join Lisa on an especially personal exploration — and build on our long relationship together delving deep into the dynamics of America through the people that make it diverse and complex.”

Part2 Pictures is currently producing the eighth season of “This Is Life With Lisa Ling.”

Animated Films ‘Boboiboy: The Movie’ and ‘Saving Sally’ Available on DVD From MVD

The Asian animated films Boboiboy: The Movie and Saving Sally are available on DVD From MVD Entertainment Group and Synergetic Distribution.

In Boboiboy: The Movie, alien treasure hunters named The Tengkotak have arrived on earth and kidnapped Ochobot in order to use him to locate an ancient and powerful Power Sphere. BoBoiBoy and his super friends must race against time to save Ochobot and uncover the secrets behind the Sfera Kuasa. The second film in the series, BoBoiBoy: Elemental Heroes, is slated for theatrical release in December 2020. The first film has been broadcast in more than 70 countries, but this is the first time it has been released in the United States.

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In Saving Sally, Marty, an aspiring comic-book artist, secretly loves his gadget inventor best friend, Sally, and fantasizes about saving her from the big bad world. The film won the Audience Award at Lund Fantastic, the Jury Award at Fantasporto, Special Mention at Brussels Fantasy, Best Family Film at Bentonville and Children’s Choice at Metro Manila.

Study: Movie Viewers Want to See Themselves Reflected Onscreen

Movie viewers want to see themselves reflected on the screen, according to a new study from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and data analytics firm Movio.

Moviegoers being able to identify with the characters in a movie drives their attendance behavior, the study found. When there are characters of a certain cohort (group), this is likely to drive more moviegoers of the same cohort. The analysis shows across all films that the leading characters and audience are generally 50-50 female/male. In 2007, only 23% of leads were female, and in 2017 30% were female. The more female characters, the more female the audience, and the more male characters, the more male the audience. The effect of genre on the percentage of leading characters male versus female was clear, according to the study authors, as well as the corresponding gender split in the attending audience. Action movies, most notably, regularly have well over 50% male characters and well over 50% (and frequently over 60%) male audience.

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The opportunity for Black, Asian and Latinx moviegoers to see themselves represented on screen is significantly lower than for white moviegoers. Several movies tally 100% of their characters as White with the majority having over 50% white characters. For the remaining four race/ethnicity groups, the majority of films are clustered at below 25% (if not 0%) representation on screen. This is significant considering people of color (Black, Asian and Latinx) comprise 37.8% of the U.S. population, the study noted. Across the board in terms of ethnicity, gender, and age, the negative portrayal of characters from a certain group has little bearing on whether or not that group attends a movie. However, particularly with regard to race and ethnicity, the analysis again shows how minority audiences are given substantially fewer opportunities to even see characters from their racial or ethnic group on the screen, no less characters from their racial or ethnic group who are also not depicted negatively.

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The research was also able to determine what demographic cohorts are being represented in films geared primarily towards children. Both male and female leads are roughly evenly split in terms of on-screen representation for films with more child visits, suggesting that young moviegoers are getting a fairly balanced representation of genders in their on-screen media consumption. However, when looking at race/ethnicity there is less of a balanced representation. White characters are very well represented in children’s films, with the majority of films having 50% or more White characters represented on screen. There is not the same level of representation for Asian or Latinx characters in children’s media as the vast majority of films moviegoers are bringing their children to see have no representation of these cohorts. For example, of all the titles analyzed, only six titles had over 18% Latinx characters, despite Latinx comprising 18.4% of the U.S. population.

Data scientists at both organizations examined the following questions for the “I Want to See Me: Why Diverse On-Screen Representation Drives Cinema Audiences” white paper:

  • Does the presence of certain groups (Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Age) on-screen draw larger numbers of the corresponding audience?
  • What negative or positive portrayals of certain groups are different viewers seeing in the most popular films?
  • What portrayals of certain groups are child viewers seeing in the most popular films?

 

On-screen data (the Institute) and audience demographic data (Movio) for the top 100 films (by box office) in the United States were examined for 2018 and 2019.

“As we’ve said before, our goal is very simple: that the characters on screen reflect the population, which is half Female and incredibly diverse,” Geena Davis, founder and chair of the institute, said in a statement. “We know that increasing the presence of underrepresented groups in media can have a very powerful impact on shifting cultural perceptions. Our industry has a tremendous opportunity to foster inclusion in society by taking action to diversify who shows up on screen. As this new research shows, we have made progress, but we need to do better.”

“As the movie industry begins to recover from the effects of the pandemic, this research carries even more weight,” William Palmer, chief executive and co-founder of Movio, said in a statement. “Diverse audiences can go elsewhere to find entertainment options that speak to them and their lives, so if cinema is to remain relevant and continue having a cultural impact, it must attract these audiences by delivering more representative content.”

“When we consider the impact that the media children are exposed to can have, including in the cinema, it is vital for them to see from the beginning that fictitious worlds reflect the real world, and that they see themselves reflected on screen,” Davis added. “When you see someone like yourself reflected, you take in the message: ‘There’s someone like me, I must belong.’ It’s encouraging to see the progress we’ve made with gender representation, but we must show more diversity on screen, if we don’t show more diversity, we are contributing to the serious problem of racial inequity in our society today.”

Fandango Teams With Director Jon M. Chu to Highlight Movies by Asian-American Auteurs

For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Fandango has asked director Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians, In the Heights) to share his list of influential films from Asian-American auteurs, with personal essays on why each is meaningful to him.

The Farewell

“I met Lulu Wang at the ‘SNL’ after party when Awkwafina hosted the show. I didn’t know anybody other than Awkwafina and she was busy talking to Lorne [Michaels] but guess who came up to me? Yup, the brilliant and incredibly warm Lulu Wang…Like Lulu making me feel at home at that party that night, this movie will make you feel seen,” Chu said of Lulu Wang’s The Farewell.

“I’ll never forget my father gathering my mother, me and my four siblings into a mini van on a Sunday morning and heading to the small movie theater playing this film…by the end of the film, we were in awe of how much it reflected our family,” he said of Wayne Wang’s The Joy Luck Club.

His full responses are here on Fandango.

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The YouTube channel Fandango Movieclips is debuting a playlist featuring some of the best scenes from Chu’s selection of titles. FandangoNow, the transactional VOD service from Fandango, is also honoring Chu’s choices, with the films available to watch at home here.

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The full list of Chu’s influential movies from Asian-American filmmakers include:

Better Luck Tomorrow (Justin Lin)

Short Term 12 (Destin Daniel Cretton)

The Joy Luck Club (Wayne Wang)

Saving Face (Alice Wu)

Life of Pi (Ang Lee)

The Farewell (Lulu Wang)

Meru (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)

The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan)

Searching (Aneesh Chaganty)

Tigertail (Alan Yang) — available on Netflix

Gook (Justin Chon)