Indonesia Insights: Big changes are happening in Southeast Asia's #1 economy

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Cinemas Features

On Monday, Dec. 10, CineAsia will present a panel of experts sharing their insights on the social trends that are making Indonesia one of Asia’s most exciting and fastest-growing markets. Here’s a preview.

Gerald Dibbayawan, CEO, Cinemaxx:

Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populated country, is growing and changing fast. Along with that growth, consumer behavior is shifting gears, with an expected uplift in its consumer class by 50 million people over the next five years. “Engagement,” “digital” and “omni channel” are the buzzwords shaping social trends in the archipelago. How will this impact cinemagoing in one of the fastest-growing cinema markets on Earth?

In Southeast Asia’s largest economy, consumers are fast catching up to those in the West in their online and offline behavior. Digital penetration, mobile device usage and e-commerce activity are all on the rise, disrupting long-established retailing models, and together changing the landscape on which cinemas must exist.

Shopping malls are moving from providing transactional convenience to experiential offerings, and now into the realm of consumer engagement where every move, every rupiah spent can and is often tracked and analyzed. But to what end is this relentless quest to accumulate consumer data headed? Are retailers just suffering from “FOMO” and collecting data without a clear vision of what to do with it? Or are consumers truly benefitting from “Big Brother” watching every move they make? 

Just how these changes in retailing impact cinemagoers and in turn the plight of the cinema business in Indonesia will play out over the coming years. Cinemas must evolve if they are to remain relevant within the spectrum of offerings competing for consumers’ time. Experiences and engagement are the key concepts for continued success of the cinema business in Indonesia.

Sheila Timothy, Producer, Likelike Pictures:

Based on The Spectator Index of “20 Countries with the Most Population,” Indonesia is positioned at number four with more than 265 million people living at the moment. But when it comes to the movie industry, Indonesia has an unsaturated market for screen-to-population ratio, a challenge for the industry. Although the screen-to-population ratio might not be perfectly balanced, Indonesian audiences have a strong demand for content, especially in recent years. Seven of Indonesia’s ten best-selling films of all time were released in 2016-2018. This data shows that Indonesian film nowadays is highly appreciated by audiences and able to meet their demands. Now the question is: What happens if the industry gives them more than just a film?

Forty years ago, Lucasfilm changed the Hollywood movie industry with Star Wars: A New Hope. It changed movie marketing, how a blockbuster film should be made, and the definitions of hero and villain. If Hollywood has Star Wars, then Indonesia has Wiro Sableng.

Wiro Sableng(known as 212 Warrior) is one of the longest-running intellectual properties and character book series in Indonesia. The series consist of 185 books that have spanned 39 years (1967-2006) and was adapted into a TV series in the 1990s. By that time, Wiro had three big captive markets: the novels’ readers, the TV series’ fans and young Indonesian moviegoers. Supported by an A-list crew and cast, Lifelike Pictures produced a Wiro Sableng feature film with 20th Century Fox, its first co-production in Southeast Asia.

Co-production is not only about financial aspects but also the transfer of knowledge. Wiro has opened up the possibilities of cooperation and foreign investment in the industry. The film itself has employed almost 1,000 Indonesian crew and cast. Wiro is also the first Indonesian movie that employed almost 100 local VFX artists, with the most highly complex VFX work ever done in Indonesia.

Aside from the film itself, Wiro Sableng become the first local hero in Arena of Valor (AOV), a well-known multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game designed by Tencent Games, the largest gaming company in the world by revenue and market value in 2017. By developing its IP chain that consists of merchandise, art books, action figures, comics, games and much more, Wiro Sablengbecame the first complete IP movie franchise management in Indonesia.

Successfully considered an Indonesian local hero for the new generation, Wiro has brought back the action-fantasy genre to Indonesia and also brings other similar local hero movies to the pipeline. The universe of Wiro Sableng is still expanding, with more to come in the future, consisting of sequels and series.

John Schreiner, Senior VP, Theatre Development, Russia, CIS, Middle East and India, IMAX Corporation:

The Indonesian cinema industry appears to be on the brink of rapid growth, driven by a rising middle class with more disposable income and a greater appetite for consuming “aspirational” brands and experiences.

IMAX serves as an affordable luxury that provides the world’s most immersive film experience to draw audiences in and allow them to see a film to its fullest—something they cannot get anywhere else.

IMAX has a long history of operating in Asia and in Indonesia. Its first theatre in the country launched in 1984 and the company is now present in 17 regional Asia-Pacific markets. With success and popularity in markets following similar consumer trends, such as China, India and Africa, IMAX is well placed to draw on this experience and drive the future of moviegoing in Indonesia.

At CineAsia, I will speak on the company’s long presence in Asia-Pacific and the “aspirational” type of consumer market that Indonesia is becoming today and how some of the lessons IMAX has learned from other markets could guide us on what the future may hold for Indonesia.