Digital TV Research: Asia-Pacific Region to Add 205 Million SVOD Subs by 2027, Led by China

The Asia-Pacific region is projected to have 746 million SVOD subscriptions by 2027, up from 541 million in 2021, according to data analysis from Digital TV Research. China would account for 364 million SVOD subscriptions — or 49% of the region’s total, according to the projections. India would add 92 million subs to reach 176 million.

Major U.S.-based platforms Netflix, Disney+, Paramount+, HBO Max, Prime Video and Apple TV+ are projected to account for only a quarter of the region’s SVOD subscriptions — much lower than in any other region in the world. Notably, Netflix generated its only global subscriber gains (1 million) in the Asia-Pacific region in the most-recent fiscal quarter, ended June 30.

“These platforms will never gain access to China, and India has plenty of local [streaming] players,” analyst Simon Murray said in a statement.

Disney+ overtook Netflix in total subscribers (when combined with Hulu and ESPN+) in 2020 — almost entirely due to its success in India. Disney+ Hotstar reshaped the SVOD landscape in India, mainly by controlling the rights to India Premier League cricket. Disney+ Hotstar did not retain those rights. The platform will lose 4.5 million subscribers in 2022 and 10 million in 2023 before plateauing, according to Digital TV Research.

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Assuming that Disney+ retained the IPL rights in India, the previous forecasts estimated 127 million Disney+ subscribers across the region by 2027.

“Our revised forecasts predict 66 million by 2027 — 61 million less than before,” Murray wrote in the report.

‘Ip Man: The Awakening’ Due on Hi-Yah! Streaming Service May 20, Disc and Digital June 21

The Chinese martial arts drama Ip Man: The Awakening will be released on the streaming service Hi-Yah! May 20 and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc and digital June 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

In the film, while visiting Hong Kong, a young Master Ip intervenes in a kidnapping attempt, unintentionally igniting a turf war with a ruthless human trafficking ring. In retaliation, the gang kidnaps one of Ip Man’s close friends, leaving him with no choice but to challenge the group’s notoriously brutal boxing champion head-on.

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Co-directed by Li Xi Jie and Zhang Zhu Lin, Ip Man: The Awakening stars the rising wing chun martial arts master Miu Tse (aka Miao Xie, My Father Is a Hero), assuming the legendary title role alongside cast members including Chen Guan Ying, Zhao Yu Xuan, and Hao Yan Fei. The bonus features include a new English dub.


Chinese Streamer iQIYI Launches on Roku in the U.S. and Canada

Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max and Paramount+, among other U.S. streaming platforms, are not allowed to operate in China due to the government’s crackdown on foreign media access in the world’s most-populous country.

But those restrictions don’t apply to China’s largest subscription streaming VOD service iQIYI, which now has a presence on Roku, the largest streaming video gateway in U.S. and China. Users can also access the iQIYI app on Samsung, LG Smart TVs, Google Chromecast, Android phones and tablets, Android TV, iPhones and iPads, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or the service’s website.

iQIYI International offers subscribers two monthly options in HD resolution and the ability to download titles. The standard monthly plan is available for CAD $8.99 and U.S. $8.99. Priced at CAD $10.99 and U.S. $9.99, the premium plan allows access on four devices.

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The launch on Roku also enables iQIYI’s overseas subscribers to access content through their Roku devices. The platform provides free viewing to some episodes of selected dramas. This means users can watch the first episodes of shows like “Oh My Lord,” “Sassy Beauty” and “Nothing but You” for free before committing to a subscription.

In addition to Mandiran, iQIYI offers dubbed content versions for Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian Bahasa viewers.

iQIYI claims to have more than 530 million monthly active users on mobile devices and personal computers, respectively. The platform had 100 million paid subs in 2020.

Digital TV Research: Asia Pacific OTT Video Revenue to Grow Despite Chinese Crackdowns on Content

Sales, rental and streaming revenue of episodic content and movies across 22 Asia Pacific countries is expected to reach $52 billion in 2027; up by 62% from the $32 billion in 2021, according to new data from Digital TV Research. From the $20 billion additional revenue, China would add $3 billion, India $3 billion, South Korea $3 billion and Japan $5 billion. Indian revenue would more than double.

Asia Pacific subscription VOD revenue would reach $28 billion by 2027, up from $18 billion in 2021. Ad-supported VOD is projected to grow by $8 billion to $19 billion by 2027.

Much of the growth would occur outside China due in large part to the Chinese government’s clampdown on fan-based reality productions hard, resulting in SVOD subscriber growth deceleration.

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Market leader Tencent Video March 23 reported only a 1% increase in SVOD subscriptions for 2021. The situation was worse for China’s No. 2 SVOD service iQiyi, which lost 6 million subscribers in 2021 to take its total to 96.4 million. Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and other U.S. SVOD services are not allowed to operate in China.

“Can one country make that much difference?” analyst Simon Murray asked in a note. “China was responsible for 37% of Asia Pacific’s OTT revenue in 2021. Luckily, there is plenty of growth elsewhere.”

Genius Brands Animated Series ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten’ to Stream in China

Genius Brands International has announced the launch of season one of its flagship animated children’s series, “Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,”  on Alibaba Group’s video streaming platform Youku starting March 2022.

Youku is one of the top three streaming platforms in the mainland China territory, according to Genius. 

Additionally, the  series will be available via the Tudou and Kumiao apps.

“Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,” executive produced by and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, focuses on the adventures of six unique kids who are learning to master their super skills, along with their ABCs, with the help of their teacher Arnold Armstrong (aka the superhero Captain Fantastic).

“I have always loved bringing my latest projects to my Chinese fans, because they’re some of the most passionate fans in the world, so I can’t wait for them to see ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,'” Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

“Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten” premiered on April 23, 2021, on Genius Brands’ Kartoon Channel! in the United States and Canada and has since garnered more than 75 million views, according to Genius. The company will continue to launch the series in key territories around the world in 2022.

“Alibaba’s Youku is one of the most far-reaching media platforms for kids in the world, and we are excited to make ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten’ available to millions of kids across China,” Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO of Genius Brands, said in a statement. “This unique action-packed series delivers all the elements that resonate with kids today, along with positive messaging and Arnold’s star power.”

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“Genius Brands has done a tremendous job of creating a truly unique series that kids and their families can enjoy together,” Aaron Liao, GM of Youku Kids, said in a statement. “With Arnold Schwarzenegger driving ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten’ and the creative storylines and compelling characters, we have no doubt that we will be able to create an impressive fan base in China, building on the success of the series in the U.S. and Canada.”

The series, voice-directed by John Landis and featuring head writer Steven Banks (“SpongeBob SquarePants”), is produced by Genius Brands and Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment in association with Schwarzenegger’s Oak Productions. Gill Champion, CEO of Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment; Heyward; Schwarzenegger; and Paul Wachter of Main Street Advisors serve as executive producers.

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Tops $1 Billion Global Box Office as No. 1 Theatrical Release in 2021

Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home ended the suspense early, topping $1 billion in projected global ticket sales through Dec. 26, according to industry data. The third webcrawler movie starring Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man was expected to give China’s war drama The Battle of Lake Changjin ($902 million) a run for top-grossing theatrical release in 2021.

The Sony release is now the first movie to break the $1 billion threshold in the pandemic era — doing so in about 12 days, a good sign for Hollywood and exhibitors that moviegoers are both largely vaccinated and unalarmed by the new Omicron COVID variant. The title generated $81 million across 4,336 North American theaters.

Notably, No Way Home more than doubled ($467 million) the domestic revenue of previous chart topper Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at $224 million.

Among other new releases, Universal/Illumination’s animated musical sequel Sing 2 generated $41 million through the ended Holiday weekend, while Warner Bros. Pictures/Village Roadshow’s The Matrix Resurrections realized about $14 million in ticket sales. The fourth installment in the sci-fi franchise — after 18 years — is streaming concurrently on HBO Max as part of WarnerMedia’s 2021 release strategy.

Disney/20th Century Studios’ The King’s Man saw $10 million in ticket sales across 3,180 screens during the extended weekend. Finally, American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story, Lionsgate/Kingdom Story Company’s football-themed biopic, saw $6.2 million in ticket sales.

Kino Lorber Sets Jan. 4 Disc Dates for Trio of 1940s Classics

Kino Lorber has added three classics from the 1940s to its Jan. 4 release slate. China, Golden Earrings and All My Sons will be released on Blu-ray Disc only under the Kino Lorber Studio Classics line.

China is a 1943 wartime drama from director John Farrow that stars Alan Ladd as an American gasoline salesman in 1941 China who supplies his wares to the highest bidder — in this case, the enemy Japanese. His unbiased business philosophy is tested on a trip to Shanghai when he meets an American schoolteacher (Loretta Young) and her Chinese students, who tell him of Japanese cruelty. In a surprise show of allegiance, he joins a band of Chinese guerrillas on a daring heist. The film set a Hollywood record of using 70 pounds of precious, rationed gunpowder.

Bonus features include a new audio commentary by film historian Eddy Von Mueller.
Golden Earrings (1947) is an adventure film in which Marlene Dietrich plays a lusty gypsy. Escaping from the Nazis, British colonel Ralph Denistoun (Ray Milland) and his partner arrange to meet in Stuttgart to steal Hitler’s poison gas formula. On the journey, Denistoun meets Lydia (Dietrich), who keeps him out of harm’s way. Only with the help of the extraordinary gypsy woman can he finish the mission that will make him a hero in this tale of espionage and intrigue from Hollywood ace Mitchell Leisen, the director of Death Takes a Holiday, Hands Across the Table, Easy Living, Midnight, Arise, My Love and No Time for Love.

Bonus features include a new audio commentary by film historian David Del Valle.

All My Sons (1948) is a drama based on the work of acclaimed playwright Arthur Miller and stars Edward G. Robinson and Burt Lancaster. The film is a wartime tragedy of a family torn apart and forced to come to terms with their inner demons. Chris Keller (Lancaster) returns home from war with news of his impending engagement to Ann Deever (Louisa Horton), the fiancée of his missing-in-action and presumed-dead brother. As the ghosts of the past creep back into the Keller home, Chris’s father (Robinson) makes a stunning and painful revelation that will change the family forever. Directed by Irving Reis and shot by Russell Metty (Touch of Evil, Spartacus), the film has been hailed as unforgettable tale of moral dilemmas.

Bonus features include a new 2K master and a new audio commentary by film historians Kat Ellinger and Lee Gambin.

Can ‘Spider-Man’ Beat the Chinese Army?

NEWS ANALYSIS — Following a monstrous opening weekend, Sony Pictures’ latest “Spider-Man” franchise release, No Way Home, has already topped $600 million in global ticket sales after just five days in theaters. The movie now lays claim to having the second-highest box office debut in history — surpassing Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War.

It’s a staggering accomplishment during a pandemic, considering that the new fast-spreading Omicron variant has quickly become the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S.

With just days left in 2021, the question looms: can No Way Home maintain its theatrical appeal through the winter holidays and challenge China’s The Battle at Lake Changjin — a nationalist war drama that has generated more than $900 million in revenue since its Oct. 1 debut — for No. 1 at the global box office?

Sponsored by the Chinese government, Lake Changjin presents a fictionalized account of China’s People’s Volunteer Army helping North Korean troops defeat the U.S.-backed South Korean army at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir 71 years ago during the Korean War. Chinese involvement against U.N. forces in the conflict prolonged the fighting, ultimately resulting in a truce and the establishment of the current demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

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Lake Changjin has generated almost the entirety of its box office gross solely from Chinese audiences, as has Chinese comedy Hi, Mom, which has generated more than $822 million on its own since its February release.

This year, Hollywood largely found a cold shoulder from China as the country celebrated the 100th anniversary of the communist party’s founding — and government officials preferred showcasing local movies rather than Western titles.

Indeed, Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage has yet to find a Chinese release date. And there is no release date for No Way Home.

Previous U.S. box office polesitter Disney/Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was completely ignored by Chinese officials largely due to politics. Shang-Chi star Simu Liu reportedly emigrated to Canada as a child with his family in part to escape communist rule.

Regardless, the 2019 “Spider-Man” movie, Far From Home, starring Tom Holland as the webslinger, generated $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office, including $200 million in China.

“Marvel films have a consistent habit of playing very strongly throughout the weekend as demand often scales very well,” Shawn Robbins with BoxOffice Pro, wrote in a post. “The beginning of holiday breaks and vacations should help No Way Home maintain that status quo.”

Chinese Anime Fantasy ‘The Monkey King: Reborn’ Due Digitally and on Disc Dec. 7 From Well Go

The Chinese anime action-adventure fantasy The Monkey King: Reborn will be released digitally, and on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 7 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Playing off the three “Monkey King” live-action films, The Monkey King: Reborn follows the short-tempered trickster after he is insulted while visiting a temple with his master Tang Monk. Outraged, he destroys a magical tree and accidentally releases the ancient King of Demons, who kidnaps Tang Monk as revenge for his long imprisonment. Now, Monkey King and his fellow disciples must rescue their master within three days, before the demon king regains his full power and unleashes his armies to destroy the Earth.

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Directed by Wang Yun Fei (four-film “Yugo & Lala” franchise), The Monkey King: Reborn features an all-new English dub for this release.

‘Shang-Chi’ Passes ‘Black Widow’ as Top 2021 U.S. Box Office Release

The Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has surpassed Marvel Studios’ Black Widow as the top-grossing domestic movie with three months left in the 2021 box office.

Shang-Chi, starring Chinese-born Simu Liu, generated $3.59 million across 3,952 theaters Friday night (Sept. 24) to reach $186.7 million. That figure tops the previous polesitter, Marvel’s Black Widow, with $183.4 million. Shang-Chi is expected to dominate the domestic box office for the fourth consecutive weekend.

Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, still leads the global box office with $378.3 million, compared to $330.8 million for Shang-Chi.

Both titles, along with other major Hollywood releases, have not yet been released in China, the world’s No. 2 box office market. While no official reason has been given, reports suggest that with the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party occurring this summer, the Chinese government is reluctant to showcase Western movies.

Despite Shang-Chi featuring a largely Asian cast, including Liu, the actor emigrated to Canada with his parents at the age of five — a move, media reports suggest, was largely due to his parents’ opposition to communism.

Regardless, the success of the two movies heralds back to Disney’s triumphant pre-pandemic 2019 box office, when it tallied more than $11 billion in global ticket sales — largely on the back of Marvel superhero movies, and the Chinese box office.