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Rakuten TV announces its first original movie – Second World War thriller Hurricane

Wednesday, April 25th 2018 by Emma Woollacott

Rakuten TV is moving into the film-making business with the launch of Rakuten Cinema – and has announced its first movie, to be released this autumn.

The video-on-demand firm, formerly named wuakiTV, says that Rakuten Cinema will both co-produce and distribute movie content by acquiring exclusive rights. The plan, it says, is to shorten the theatrical window by releasing movies simultaneously online and in cinemas.

"The entertainment industry is going through a deep revolution and we want to lead it. For us, what matters is great content, no matter where or how it is consumed," says Spencer Pollard, CEO of Kaleidoscope.

"Our vision is to empower people to watch and enjoy great stories without waiting months between its cinema and home entertainment release. We don't want to substitute cinemas, but instead complement and offer film-loving consumers as many ways as possible to watch good movies whenever and wherever they want."

The company says it plans to expand its original productions around Europe later this year: the next stop will be Spain.

Action thriller

For its first feature, Rakuten TV is working with Kaleidoscope Entertainment on a World War II action thriller called Hurricane. It stars Iwan Rheon of Game Of Thrones, Marvel's Inhumans, Riviera and Misfits, along with Milo Gibson of Hacksaw Ridge and Marcin Dorocinski of Anthropoid, Rose and The Reverse.

Hurricane tells the true story of a group of crack Polish fighter pilots who heroically helped defend British shores during the Battle of Britain. Rheon plays ace pilot Jan Zumbach, flying alongside the Royal Air Force in rickety Hurricane fighter planes.

Directed by BAFTA winner David Blair, Hurricane is produced by Krystian Kozlowski of Prospect 3, Matt Whyte of Stray Dogs Films and Lipsync Productions.

"Not only is the film a visual spectacle, with brilliant performances and a fabulous authentic look and feel, but by partnering with Rakuten and hitting a key audience demographic, with our combined vision for the film and release plan, we hope to maximise the commercial returns for everybody involved," says Pollard.

Founded in 2009, Rakuten is headquartered in Spain and offers its services in 12 European countries. Its catalogue includes content from major studios such as Warner Bros, Disney, Sony Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox, as well as a broad range of independent producers; it claims it has the widest range of HDR and 4K movies in the business.

Rakuten's on-demand content, which includes TV series as well as movies, is available on a wide range of devices from tablets to smart TVs. Movies from the company's back catalogue cost from £2.49 to rent or from £7.99 to buy; at the most expensive end, a new release in HD will set you back £13.99.

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