Distribution in Indonesia took center stage at the Asian Contents and Film Market during the Busan International Film Festival. With a population of 277 million, Indonesia is one of the most populous countries in the world. However, due to its geographical nature as an archipelago, the country lacks an adequate number of cinema screens for its population, with only 2,300 screens available. Despite this limitation, the box office in Indonesia is thriving. In 2022, total admissions surpassed pre-pandemic levels from 2019, with over 54 million admissions. The unique distribution model in Indonesia involves producers directly dealing with the country’s three major multiplex chains, along with smaller cinemas in second and third-tier cities.
During a panel on Indonesian distribution at the Busan International Film Festival, producer Angga Dwimas Sasangko of Visinema highlighted the scarcity of screens in the country. He compared the vast span of the country, from Dublin to Istanbul, with the limited number of screens available. Sasangko called for increased investment in the theatrical distribution business, emphasizing the potential benefits of investing directly in the Indonesian market. Shanty Haramyn, a producer at Base, added that the government’s forward-looking policy in 2016 had paved the way for foreign direct investment in the sector. This policy shift led to the entry of global exhibition players like Korea’s CJ-CGV and Latin America’s Cinepolis, alongside market leader Cinema 21.
Director and producer Ifa Isfansyah shared his experience treating his producing partner as a distributor. He mentioned the success story of “Yuni,” a film directed by Kamila Andini and produced by Isfansyah, which became a box office hit after being re-edited by a local producing partner to cater to Indonesian preferences. Speaking to Variety at Busan, other Indonesian film industry figures expressed their perspectives on the distribution scenario for independent local cinema. Makbul Mubarak, director of the Venice-winning film “Autobiography,” highlighted the reliance on movie theaters, streamers, and the local film community as the primary channels to reach audiences. He expressed hope for the growth of independent films and corresponding expansion in distribution options.
Yulia Evina Bhara, the producer of “Autobiography,” stressed the complimentary relationship between streamers and theaters, with each informing the other about audience preferences and practices. Bhara believes that caring about the growth of all aspects and players in the industry is crucial for overall industry development. Mouly Surya, whose film “What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love” featured in the Indonesia focus at Busan, acknowledged the challenges of marketing to diverse subcultures within the Indonesian archipelago. Surya emphasized that marketing to such a vast and culturally diverse country is an expensive undertaking. Another filmmaker, Yosep Anggi Noen, noted that the Indonesian cinema network often fails to allocate sufficient space or screens for independent films.
In contrast, Joko Anwar, an independent cinema pioneer, expressed a more positive outlook. Anwar stated that cinema owners usually provide opportunities for all movies, even those with little commercial value, to be screened in limited screens. If a film achieves high occupancy rates, further expansion becomes possible. Anwar’s film “Impetigore” is also part of the Indonesia focus at Busan, showcasing the diversity of Indonesian cinema.
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