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Dubai: The next time you call the grocery to order something, you may ask them to also home-deliver the latest movie.

A disruptive technology by Australia-based digital company FilMe will now allow you to legally watch a movie on the first day of its release from the safe comforts of your home anywhere in the UAE.

All you have to do is scan a QR code using your smart phone’s camera.

The smart tickets cost between Dh5 and Dh20 and work seamlessly on all smartphones, allowing you to mirror or cast the movie onto the television screen. A movie can be watched seven times over seven days at no extra cost.

“Movie watching in the UAE will never be the same again. This is a world first, a real game changer,” said Dubai-based Faisal Mushtaq, the exclusive distributor of FilMe in the GCC.

FilMe's Faisal Mushtaq

Unlike OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, FilMe does not require any subscription, download, sign up or credit card.

The entertainment industry start-up debuted in India in September 2020 after signing up with multinational conglomerate, Reliance Industries, for the physical distribution of their films. But it’s the GCC, particularly the UAE, where the platform hopes to buck the trend.

“In India, FilMe has been distributing movies that have already been released. But in the UAE the platform will distribute some big ticket movies on the very day of their release starting next month,” said Mushtaq, hinting at two major upcoming films.

“The UAE is the world’s powerhouse for innovation so it’s quite apt that this innovative technology is used first in this country,” he reasoned.

FilMe’s QR-code enabled movie tickets, often described by the company as the ‘DVD of the 21st century’, are already available at more than 10,000 outlets in the UAE. The points of sale include grocery shops convenience stories like Zoom electronic retailer Sharaf DG and some e-commerce platforms.

Soon the tickets will be also available at a leading hypermarket chain. “We just signed a mega deal this week,” said Mushtaq.

FilMe in a store
FilMe’s QR-code enabled movie tickets, often described by the company as the ‘DVD of the 21st century’, are already available at more than 10,000 outlets in the UAE. Image Credit: Supplied

The company reckons the platform could evolve as an added stream of revenue for movie producers struggling to make money from theatres strutted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“At a time when various industries are making paradigm shifts, the film industry too is looking into new avenues. Movie producers are exploring this new technology [FilMe} in the UAE because its retail sector is highly developed and organised. This perhaps explains why distributors of the South Indian blockbuster ‘Master’ gave us the distribution rights of the action thriller within 15 days of its release,” said Mushtaq, who claims their reach is now 10 times bigger than all cinemas in the region put together.

FilMe’s unique pay-as-you-watch model also aims to target the country’s sizeable population of over two million blue collar workers who can’t afford expensive monthly subscriptions or don’t have an email account or credit card in the first place.

FilMe was conceptualised by Dr Abhishek Shukla, a business lecturer at Charles Darwin University (CDU) in Darwin, Australia. Shulka also has a PhD in international business and strategic management from Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne. In an interview published on the CDU website, Shukla described his platform as “the Uber of the entertainment world.” saying it uses the opportunities of digital technology to turn an industry, that hasn’t moved with the times, on its head. It is the movie equivalent of what streaming was to traditional television broadcasting,” he said.

In another interview, Shukla said his platform spares consumers the cost of monthly subscriptions. “Our wide online and offline distribution ensures that we give what you want to watch right when you want to watch,” he said adding that the technology can also help curb piracy.

Last year, the Global Innovation Policy Centre estimated that worldwide online piracy cost the US economy between $29.9 billion and $71 billion in lost revenue. If that was not bad enough, the global box office shrunk 70 per cent in 2020, falling to $12.4 billion in a year marred by the deadly global pandemic. Since August, when the majority of theatres globally were reopened, Asia Pacific has accounted for nearly 78 per cent of the total box office worldwide. However, cinemas remain off limits for millions in populated and growing economies like India and China because of expensive tickets. But most of these people have a smart phone and routinely consume a large amount of video content. In India alone there are over 650 million smart phone users with that number projected to reach over 760 million by the year end. It’s this segment that FilMe wants to target.