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Netflix Offering ‘Hunger Games’ in Retail Window in Latin America

12 Jun, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

'The Hunger Games'

Teen box office hit among several theatrical movies streaming to Netflix subscribers on their retail release

Netflix June 12 said it would offer Latin America subscribers streaming access to The Hunger Games, beginning Aug. 18 — the same day the teen box office hit bows in the retail window in North America.

The subscription video-on-demand pioneer gained early access to the Lionsgate tentpole title after closing a multiyear distribution agreement with Telefilms, a Latin America distributor of primarily independent films.

The deal is noteworthy in that it marks the first time a lower-margin SVOD service has gained access to major titles in the retail window just months removed from their theatrical release. It also underscores the challenges Netflix is having gaining consumer traction in Latin America, in addition to the relative weakness of physical and digital sellthrough — and transactional VOD rental — in the region.

Indeed, in Netflix’s first-quarter letter to shareholders, CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells said consumer understanding of SVOD in Latin America paled in comparison to other parts of the world. In addition, low household penetration of media players, under-developed Internet infrastructure and relatively low credit card usage for transactions are ongoing challenges in rolling out Netflix in the region.

“This lack of OTT (over-the-top) competition means that the concept of on-demand streaming video (outside of piracy and YouTube) is nascent, requiring us to do more work in driving consumer understanding and acceptance of our streaming service,” Hasting and Wells wrote in the letter.

Other titles available for streaming in Latin America as early as four months after their theatrical premiere, include Best Picture winner The Artist (The Weinstein Co.), June 15; critically-acclaimed film Shame (20th Century Fox), with Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan; horror-thriller The Chernobyl Diaries (Warner Bros.); and the new Woody Allen film, To Rome with Love (Sony Pictures), featuring Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page.

Additional movies coming to Netflix in the retail window from Telefilms are Ender's Game, a science-fiction thriller from Lionsgate with Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Abigail Breslin, and Warner's supernatural mystery Beautiful Creatures, with Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons and Emmy Rossum. Game debuts theatrically Nov. 1, 2013, while Creatures launches in theaters Feb. 13, 2013.

“We are excited to now have such a fantastic flow of commercially successful and critically-acclaimed films for our members in the region,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer, said in a statement. “Telefilms has great taste and a great track record that now extends over 50 years, and we are proud to be working with such a distinguished and successful company.”

Netflix will also be making available for streaming critically acclaimed catalog movies such as The King's Speech, Midnight in Paris and Biutiful, as well as Million Dollar Baby, The Fifth Element and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

“By choosing to work with Telefilms, Netflix is providing Latin American consumers the most appealing and prestigious films available,” Telefilms president Tomas Darcyl said in a statement.

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