“By watching Picl, you directly support your favourite movie theatre and independent cinema”
Industry Report: Distribution, Exhibition and Streaming
Anke van Diejen and Noortje van de Sande • Managing directors, Picl
During our conversation, Picl’s managing directors talked us through their model of flexible digital distribution for newly released titles
Cineuropa got the opportunity to chat with Anke van Diejen and Noortje van de Sande, the managing directors of Picl. Picl has introduced a model of flexible digital distribution for newly released films in collaboration with distributors and cinemas, whereby – in contrast with other VoD platforms – each part of the value chain gains revenue from the online sales. During our conversation, we discussed the Dutch project and the most recent developments in the business. You can find out more about Picl here.
Cineuropa: When and how did you start working on Picl?
Anke van Diejen: Picl was set up in March 2017 by myself and Noortje; we’re the owners of Dutch PR, marketing and distribution company Herrie Film & TV. After an initial pilot year, during which the technology was tested and research was carried out into the feasibility of the platform, we felt we were ready to start this unique solidarity-driven and participative platform. By watching Picl, you directly support your favourite movie theatre and independent cinema. It is super simple and speaks for itself. With Picl, independent arthouse cinemas are able to offer their local audiences a personal, hand-picked selection of new films for home viewing through a virtual cinema portal: picl.nl. Although there is nothing else like a visit to the movie theatre, there was a need for an on-demand home offer. But how do you make an attractive online translation of a pre-eminently offline experience like a movie-theatre visit? How do you ensure a good user experience in a market where giants such as Netflix and HBO set the standard?
Noortje van de Sande: We designed an online platform, created branding and set up a data-driven campaign. The jury of the 2019 European Design Awards rewarded this project with a gold medal. With a mix of appealing design, smart data analysis, and online and offline campaigns, we bring Picl to the attention of a new generation of arthouse fans. And yes, it runs just as smoothly as those tech giants’ sites.
What are Picl’s main goals?
AvD: Picl works from the idea that there is no “one size fits all” consumer. There is a huge appetite for films in cinemas. Independent theatres, with their culturally diverse programming, are the flagship platforms and natural home for quality films. These are still the places where most arthouse films develop a following, and accumulate cultural and economic value. But the reality is that not all film lovers visit the cinema, and not every film benefits from the same release. At Picl, we offer rights holders and cinemas the possibility to hybrid-connect with their audiences through virtual cinema and work with tailor-made windowing for their films. Simply put, it means looking at what the best release strategy is for each film in order to reach as many film lovers as possible.
What are the main business and technical challenges you’re facing?
NvdS: In a time when international streaming platforms dominate the market, it’s becoming increasingly important to strengthen the local industries with all their cultural diversity. This will need collaboration throughout the whole local sector, including cinemas, distributors and producers, to actually provide an answer to this dominance of the international media giants. It takes time and effort to build such a collaboration, like we did in the Netherlands.
Who are your partners? Are you looking for new ones?
NvdS: Our main partners are the independent cinemas and rights holders for European arthouse films. We are looking for new partners in different territories to help with virtual cinema. We can help any cinema with a focus on European arthouse films to connect to virtual cinema, and we can do that technically as well as through the best data and UX marketing.
What countries are currently covered by Picl? Are you planning to expand?
AvD: We currently cover the Netherlands and, soon, Belgium. We do plan to expand our services into more territories, however. The starting point for this expansion should always be cinema. We have a good eye for the local situation. Unlike other platforms, we believe in the strength of local cinemas, and we offer tailor-made solutions for virtual cinema.
What are your next steps?
AvD: Our next steps are growing in the Netherlands and Belgium, and setting up new collaborations abroad. Also, we aim to create more awareness for the possibilities of virtual cinema and to build even more showcases – together with distributors – in which more flexible and hybrid distribution models can be successful.
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