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MUBI CEO Says: “If Michael Bay Had A Film He Wanted To Show On MUBI? The Answer Is No.”

MUBI CEO Says: “If Michael Bay Had A Film He Wanted To Show On MUBI? The Answer Is No."

With Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and more all competing to carry the most content possible, mixing old favorites and original programming, MUBI has carved out a distinct corner for itself. The streaming service, which leans more independent, foreign, and classic than their competitors, curates a carefully selected batch of thirty titles for their seven million users each month. This approach has earned them fans among cinephiles, one of them being Paul Thomas Anderson, who decided to debut his new and fantastic documentary, “Junun,” on the service.

“PTA was one of those 7 million people on the platform watching movies and really liking the experience. One day I got an email from him and we began a wonderful conversation [about ‘Junun’]. This was a very personal project for him and he wanted to show it to a discerning audience,” MUBI CEO Efe Cakarel told Fast Company. In fact, the MUBI crowd is so discerning, Cakarel doesn’t believe they want to see a movie by Michael Bay. Or at least he doesn’t want to.

In a new interview with Screen Daily, the executive reveals there is a line in the sand separating which filmmakers would be granted access beyond the pearly gates of MUBI. “If Michael Bay had a film he wanted to show on MUBI? The answer is no. That’s when you start losing the brand. That’s when the Coen brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson leave MUBI. ‘Transformers 4‘ was a bad film. We say it loud and clear,” he said.

With the service arguably receiving the most press it has garnered since it launched in 2007 thanks to “Junun,” perhaps now is not the time to double down on the arthouse card, when you’re drawing in more mainstream viewers than ever before. And moreover, an audience that might be actively curious about the kind of titles they might not otherwise investigate. Metaphorically shooing away a popular director doesn’t exactly create the most welcoming environment.

Moreover, “Junun” marks a crucial turning point for MUBI. They are laying out $1 million in promoting Anderson’s movie, and with another filmmaker exclusive teased for 2016, plus Cakarel — with $15 million in new funding — promises to go toe to toe with Netflix next year at Cannes to acquire titles.

“In Cannes [this year], there were only two online platforms negotiating to buy all rights on official selection films outside of the traditional distributors,” Cakarel stated. “Netflix was one. We were the other. We talked to two or three distributors about potentially collaborating. We were competing to buy ‘Son Of Saul.’ We won ‘Arabian Nights.’ ”
“Next Cannes we’ll be a lot stronger,” he adds. “We’ll be deploying more capital and we’ll see films and scripts much earlier.
And that’s all great news, but here’s hoping that while they stick to their mandate of strong curation with a focus on the kind of titles that Netflix doesn’t do well, they create an atmosphere that creates new fans of diverse cinema, rather than just catering to the same crowd.

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