ASIAN video-on-demand (VOD) service iflix has finally launched Mystified, the company’s first foray into creating original content from the Philippines, with a special arrangement for it to be streamed on Twitter tonight.
The fantasy film, directed by Mark Reyes, is about four sorceress played by Maria Izadora “Iza” Calzado, Ana Karylle Tatlonghari-Yuzon, Rosemarie Joy “Diana Zubiri” Garcia-Smith, and Margaret Sunshine Dizon, who were sent to the mortal world to guard a magic portal to protect mankind from an encroaching great evil — all without using their powers.
It is to be noted that the four actresses and Mr. Reyes previously worked in GMA’s original Encantadia series which aired in 2005. Mr. Reyes also directed the series’ remake in 2016 which ran on the same network.
“We have been ‘fantasizing’ (get it? fantaserye) about this project since 2017,” said Sherwin de la Cruz, iflix Philippine country manager, in an e-mail interview with BusinessWorld on March 27. “It’s been on and off thinking of a project with the four girls, mostly because Karylle and Iza are both our celebrity investors who have supported the company and shared the vision since day one,”
It was some time in early 2018, Mr. De la Cruz said, that they “locked on the storyline, agreed on the budget and greenlit the show, pending scheduling with all of them — the four girls plus [Mr. Reyes].
“The decision for [doing Mystified] was super simple — data. Encantadia was a strong performer on iflix,” he said.
STREAMING ON TWITTER
The film will drop today, March 29, on the platform for free and will be streamed via Twitter starting 8 p.m.
“The iflix team is so proud of how Mystified turned out and we want to give the largest possible audience the chance to experience the film for free. Our collaboration with Twitter allows us to cast a wider net so more fans can see the film, with the added bonus of our stars interacting directly with their fans through the platform,” Mr. De la Cruz said in a press statement.
But whether other original content from iflix will also be streamed on the social media platform is still up in the air, although Mr. De la Cruz said that it’s “particularly interesting as this is the first time it has been done in the country.”
He added that they had done this in Malaysia previously and the results were “amazing,” especially because Malaysia is not a “Twitter country.”
Statistics portal Statista expects the number of activer Twitter users in the Philippines to breach the 10 million mark by 2019 from 9.5 million in 2018. In comparison, Malaysia only had 2.2 million active Twitter users in 2018 and this is expected to reach 2.4 million in 2019.
Mystified will only be shown on iflix (and the one-time Twitter stream) and there are no plans to have a theatrical release.
“When we do co-productions, we will be open to it, but depends on the requirements of partners and such,” he said.
In comparison, global VOD service Netflix typically runs a theatrical release with a concurrent streaming option on its app, which is what they did with Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma in 2018.
MORE IFLIX ORIGINALS
Soon, other iflix originals will be available for viewing outside the platform’s pay wall as Mr. De la Cruz said that they will be “going hard on showcasing high production value originals (on top of licensed content) in the iflix free tier.
“We are increasing the funnel to get more people on the platform and locking their attention in with phenomenal content,” he said.
The iflix free tier, called iflixFREE, started in the fourth quarter of 2018 and gives users free access to content such as Encantadia (both the original version and the remake).
Aside from Mystified, iflix Philippines plans to release “15 to 20” original productions including series and films within the year, though Mr. De la Cruz said they have “much more content that hasn’t been greenlit yet” slated in the near term.
“The challenge for us now is [how] to scale productions well given the business climate (i.e. some actors, actresses, and directors have projects or have priority jobs with networks). Now it becomes a decision on timing vs aspiration on the talents we want to cast,” he said. — Zsarlene B. Chua