Chinese films get new chance for wide US screenings

BY APD NEWSSep 07,2020 at 16:00

With a Chinese mobile cinema app in collaboration with American TV brand VIZIO, more than 40 Chinese theatrical releases now have chance to be seen on the TV screens of millions of American households.

Smart Cinema USA, the handheld movie theater app accessible through smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, announced on Aug. 28 that it was launching its virtual cinema app on VIZIO SmartCast.

The app makes the latest Asian blockbusters and arthouse films, including China's Sheep Without a Shepherd, The Fat Dragon and Bright Torch, accessible to viewers at home during their traditional theatrical window, prior to typical availability through streaming services.

Launching our service on the VIZIO platform and mobile devices marks another milestone in our business as we bring the virtual cinema into the homes of millions of VIZIO smart TV customers, reaching nearly a quarter of the American population, said Jack Gao, CEO of Smart Cinema.

This launch dramatically increases the exposure and awareness of quality Asian films in the North American market. The beauty of this partnership brings together the exciting and social cinema experience with smart phones and also smart TVs, he added.

With a simple navigation on the SmartCast Home screen, users can now enjoy the latest Asian, mostly Chinese, films directly on their TV, adding to the many ways movie fans can access the Smart Cinema app.

Different from brick-and-mortar theaters and traditional SVoD or AVoD streaming services, Smart Cinema USA provides the best of both worlds, allowing viewers to purchase tickets for one-time, any-location viewings of films currently playing in theaters, well before they are available for normal home viewing.

Smart Cinema USA is an American version of the Chinese app Smart Cinema developed by industry veteran Gao and his team. However, VIZIO SmartCast made breakthrough to have the films screened on relatively bigger screen of smart TVs, as the app had originally been set only for smaller screens such as mobile phones.

Smart Cinema used to be the movie theater on a mobile phone, but now it has been expanded into being a movie theater on a TV set. It is more in line with the watching habits of local users in North America who normally don't like watching films in small phone screens. This move directly creates millions of new clients for Chinese film screenings in North America. This will promote the accelerated output of Chinese films and culture and further deepen the cultural exchanges and sharing between China and the United States, Gao said.

At the same time, the 19th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), running a virtual edition this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has more than 40 Asian features streaming on the Smart Cinema USA app from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12, but with location restrictions on festival titles.

Gao believed the Hollywood giants dominating distribution channels had made it very hard for Chinese films to get beyond borders. His Smart Cinema offers an alternative helping promote Chinese culture on foreign soil as well satisfying overseas Chinese demands.


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