It's something that many movie fans have longed for - and something Napster founder Sean Parker proposed in 2016 - but Rakuten will finally introduce day-and-date cinema releases later this year in Europe. The Japanese retail giant has announced Rakuten Cinema, which will invest and coproduce independent films, to then release them in cinemas and through its streaming platform on the same day.
The first film, "Hurricane" is already slated for release in September and stars Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones), Milo Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge) and Marcin Dorocinski (Anthropoid, Rose, The Reverse). It tells the heroic true story of a group of crack Polish fighter pilots who helped defend British shores during the Battle of Britain. Rakuten has partnered with Kaleidoscope Entertainment to bring the film to a wider audience.
You may be wondering how cinemas will survive if Rakuten Cinema and similar models take off, allowing us to watch films in our home on the day they're released in theatres. Rakuten CEO Jacinto Roca has told Variety he doesn't think it will have an impact: "We are in a situation in the industry where great things have happened around TV shows, but the distribution of movies is still challenged,"
"We are bringing the cinema experience to the living room of European households. We are trying to prove that you can launch movies in a shorter window versus theatrical."
"If we move the windows closer it will be a win-win. Theaters will not be impacted in our opinion, people will still want that experience."
Rakuten has said it will continue to invest in other productions, from single-figure millions of Euros, to double figures in 2019. A Spanish film is currently in the works, and up to five new films from other European countries are expected in 2019. The first few films Rakuten releases, will also be available through other movie-buying sites, as the company hasn't taken exclusive digital rights.