Just when you thought you’d heard every possible variation of streaming services, here comes another. The new Chai Flicks is devoted to Jewish cinema.
The service is aimed at the audience who frequents the many Jewish film festivals around the world. The move wasn’t to extract more money from consumers, but to keep the films in front of the public.
A recent offering, “1945,” a post-Holocaust story set in Hungary – which sold $1 million worth of tickets globally – was rejected by Netflix. In the past, the streaming service had been open to acquiring films of this type.
That made co-founders Neil Friedman and Heidi Bogin-Oshin, and former studio exec Bill Weiner realize that with so many subscription services focused on original productions, it was time to branch out on their own.
“We know that the people who go to the film festivals are hungry for films like this,” says Weiner. “The festival … in San Francisco had 50,000 attend.”
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Overall, he says there is an audience of “hundreds of thousands” who want to see these films, which include the Israeli comedy “The Woman’s Balcony,” the Australian “My Mother’s Lost Children,” and the British-Hungarian film about an elderly Jewish baker “Dough,” starring Jonathan Pryce.
So far in 2020, two major new streaming services have launched, HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock, going for a broad audience. But there are many niche services aimed at serving specific audiences, like Acorn for British TV fans and Fandor for fans of international cinema.
“Running a niche service is actually easier than going broad,” says Weiner. “Because it can be more focused on reaching its customers. We’re not going for everybody.”
Chai Flicks costs $5.99 monthly and has a two-week free trial. It’s available on the three major streaming platforms, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, as well as computers, tablets and phones.
Listen to the complete interview with Weiner on the Talking Tech podcast.
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