Despite piracy concerns, Jiaflix's Sid Ganis believes several major players will come aboard
Paramount Pictures is the only studio so far to have signed on as a supplier for the Chinese movie-streaming service that will be launched by M1905.com and Jiaflix Enterprises later this year, but Jiaflix managing director Sid Ganis says more studios are waiting in the wings.
"Paramount saw the light, and jumped on it right away," Ganis told TheWrap after a Beverly Hills press conference to announce the service.
"And we've been talking to all the others. There's another deal right on the horizon, and two right behind them."
Ganis, whose company signed an exclusive deal to provide U.S. content for M1905 (left), said he has found a couple of holdouts among studios not tempted by the money that's currently on the table.
"A couple of the studios have said, 'No, it's not rich enough for us yet,'" he added. "But I think we'll get them in time."
Jiaxlix principals Ganis, Marc Ganis (his cousin) and Kenneth Huang have a minimum 15-year deal to help American films make further inroads into the huge and piracy-plagued Chinese market via exposure on M1905, the internet subsidiary of the government-administrated China Movie Channel.
Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2012, the Chinese website will offer Chinese and international films on a subscription video-on-demand model, as well as some international features on a transactional video-on-demand basis.
Until now, M1905's catalog of 6,000 exclusive films has consisted largely of Chinese-made productions. "They really didn't try to get American films," said Ganis. "About 95 percent of their films were Chinese, and they weren't dealing with the studios until now."
The Chinese government strictly limits the number of American feature films that can be released in the country each year to 34, a substantial increase of the 20-film limit that was in place until this year.
Ganis told TheWrap that the government also limits the number of American films that can be available via VOD. "But that limit is in the thousands," he said. "It's not a limit that is troubling in any way."
Films from the Paramount catalog have yet to be chosen for the service, but Ganis said a substantial number will be included.
Marc Ganis said that the price has yet to be set for movie-streaming subscriptions, but that it will be kept low and will likely include a discount for the first year.
The price for a single VOD transaction will likely be in the 3-5 RNB range currently used in China for VOD; that would put even the most expensive movie at less than 80 cents.
Ganis said that Jiaflix is also working to import the set-top box that can tap into the M1905 library to U.S. cities with high concentrations of Chinese-American residents.
At the press conference, Ganis also introduced Chinese writer, professor and film scholar Liu Cheng, whose book on screenwriting, "The Three-Character Primer of Film," was recently placed in the Academy library by Ganis.
Liu Cheng compared the deal to a bridge that allows a "handsome Chinese gentleman who falls in love with a beautiful American woman" to finally embrace despite the ocean and mountains that separate them.
His comments, said Ganis, "Remind us that none of this could have happened if it were not for the art form – the art of film, and the artists who are the creators of film."