Starlight Media, a Chinese-owned film financier, will leverage its growing Hollywood connections and partner with a group of leading Chinese entertainment firms to launch global streaming service SYSM.
The platform, whose initials stand for See You See Me, will combine film, TV and user-generated content as well as e-commerce, digital asset trading and social media. Domiciled and regulated in the U.S., it will operate with subscription and ad-supported layers. Subscription tiers will start at $5.99 per month.
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The venture is additionally backed by Stars Collective, the international talent development program that Starlight launched last year; Jetsen Huashi Wangju, one of China’s largest digital media companies; and Sky Link TV, a U.S.-based Chinese TV broadcaster. Jetsen has a vast library of new media and animation content and holds global rights to 25,000 TV episodes.
“Combining the best features from leading VOD platforms and social networks with an innovative system that rewards users for engaging with content, we feel SYSM is offering everything audiences are craving, in one central hub. Moreover, this is a tremendous direct-to-consumer solution for our growing Stars Collective community, which will be delivering a significant amount of original content beginning next year,” said Starlight CEO Peter Luo.
SYSM will be available to users by early 2022. It will include films, TV series and shorts from Jetsen, and be fed content from Stars Collective as its protegees’ films are completed. Operators say they aim to have 300-500 original feature films on the platform within three years of launch, and between 1,500 to 3,000 TV episodes and digital videos.
Social media, e-commerce, crowd-funding and trading of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will be additional functions that combine fan interest with finance and create an ecosystem that is differentiated from other streaming systems.
An online community can be engaged through chat rooms, fan clubs, contests, rankings and celebrity interaction. Fans will also be able to earn SYSM virtual currency coins by uploading original content, engaging with other creators and translating content.
The coins can be spent in a variety of ways, including gifts to stars, fan-financing of Stars Collective projects and for the subscription to SYSM’s paid tiers. SYSM’s NFT market will allow buying and selling of music, film, art and collectables signed by their respective creators. Some may be sold through auction on the site.
Luo says the COVID-19 pandemic, work from home trends and the growing importance of streaming services are combining to reshape the film industry and that SYSM is a response to it.
“This is a great time to launch SYSM. It is designed with the future in mind. The digital transformation we see represents a film industry upgrade, perhaps the next Industrial Revolution,” Luo told Variety. “We can see how this SYSM ecosystem shortens production times, builds interest and achieves quicker monetization. That in turn reduces the financial risk borne by investors who may otherwise be exposed for a period of five to seven years.”
Luo says many parts of the SYSM ecosystem are being worked on in different places and that other elements have yet to be developed. These include potential involvement of the prestigious Beijing Film Academy and digital currency being developed by an undisclosed Australian partner. An online theater component may include live concerts, stage plays, premieres and other live events.
Starlight’s conventional movie-finance business has been involved with “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Midway” and “Marshall.” Its upcoming films include James Wan’s “Malignant” for New Line; the supernatural horror film “Umma“ for Sony Pictures, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Sandra Oh; an action-thriller trilogy starring Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa; “Golden Empire,” with Donnie Yen; and Thai filmmaker Baz Poonpiriya’s thriller “The Innkeeper.”
On the TV side, it recently revealed a series adaptation of Rebecca F. Kuang’s award-winning fantasy novel trilogy: “The Poppy War,” “Dragon Republic” and “The Burning God,” as well as a TV series adapted from the popular action-fantasy novel “Stone Junction” to be directed by Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men”).
The company’s Stars Collective program was launched in 2019 and supports filmmaking diversity. It provides a mix of development funding and mentoring from tutors who include Raimi, Taylor, Chinese superstar Huang Xiaoming, and producers Donna Gigliotti, Gianni Nunnari, Chris Lee, Han Sanping, Paula Wagner, Patrick Wachsberger and Eric Heumann. It is expected to deliver upwards of 300 feature films in the next three years.
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