By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 11, 2010 at 2:51AM
On Monday, SpeedCine founder and CEO Reid Rosefelt goes international with a new language filter, design and features. Stand-up comedy and concert films are now visible on the site, along with a button for new releases.
SpeedCine is a powerful search engine for finding available (legal) movies on the web that tells users where and how they are available (free, to rent, buy, or via Netflix’s “watch instantly”). The site carries 23,000 films in its database, with 80,000 links to various websites. SpeedCine currently index 25 websites. Now the site will work anywhere, because it runs geo-code to ascertain a user's country by IP address, then shows what's available. Rosefelt is starting with a big push in the UK, which boasts a large number of sites.
As of Monday, if a UK resident goes to SpeedCine they will find films from local sites such as iTunes-UK, Blinkbox, LOVEFiLM (UK's Netflix), Indie Movies Online and joiningTHEdocs, along with titles from The Auteurs, IndiePix, SnagFilms, EZTakes, AMC B-Movies, YouTube, Internet Archive, National Film Board of Canada, and others, that own rights to films in the UK.
SpeedCine has closed deals with all six iTunes stores that handle online movies, including Canada, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Rosefelt has various international partners who will keep him loading in more movies throughout 2010. He marvels at The Auteurs, for example which handles over fifty worldwide distributors via a patchwork quilt of rights. "The Auteurs are pointing the way for how the online film business can flourish," says Rosefelt. "There are a lot of advantages to building a company on an international foundation."
For one thing, he doesn't understand why Hulu isn't capable of getting past its U.S.-only limitations. Hollywood movies play all over the world, he points out: "If LOVEFiLM and blinkbox can show movies free, why can’t Hulu put together a UK package? Once that’s done they can play different interstitial ads in Hulu-UK, Hulu-Canada, Hulu-Australia, Hulu-Germany, etc. The Auteurs points the way, and companies like IndiePix and EZTakes have been selling their films all over the globe for years."
LOVEFiLM also has DVD sites in Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia. And Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has announced that Netflix will start to expand their streaming business internationally with one (as yet unnamed) country this year.
Point is, the web doesn’t care about the borders and business models created by the film industry over the years, Rosefelt reiterates. "In the past we could say, 'We know we’ve made you want to see this film, but you’ll have to wait for a while, on the possibility it might come to your country.' Well nowadays, with Torrents and illegal streaming, nobody has to wait. But I do believe there are a lot of people around the world who wouldn’t mind paying a few bucks to watch a movie if they are presented with the opportunity. Apple has certainly proved that people are willing to do that with music."
In 2010, Rosefelt has his sights on adding local sites like BIGFlix in India, Ameibo and Voddler in Scandinavia, and BigPond in Australia. Just go to SpeedCine, type in your search term and you'll get info on what's available in your country. SpeedCine is hoping to build symbiotic relationships with recommendation engine sites Jinni, Clerkdogs and Criticker, as well as Flixster.
Rosefelt also sees potential to fight piracy in a positive way. "You can’t sell anything if you lock the door to the store," he adds. "There is the potential to benefit from the viral nature of blogs and social networks to promote online movies everywhere with ease and speed and to make those internet pennies become dollars if you can use the expensive technology and the muscle of a brand like Crackle (ie Sony) and the potency of a brand like Hulu to sell interstitial ads in dozens of markets, rather than put all the millions of dollars in R&D into a project that can only work in one country."