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Nick Cannon's J'can film picked up by YouTube - Film commissioner says digital distribution route is good

Published:Thursday | February 9, 2017 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Renee Robinson
Nick Cannon

When Nick Cannon's King of the Dancehall film was released last September, critics across the world dubbed it a disappointment. Film reviewers did not mince words as they gave their opinions on the film and reckoned that the only thing the rapper/actor turned movie producer got right was choosing Jamaica as the destination for the film.

Last week, it was revealed that the film was picked up by YouTube and would be available for subscription viewing later this month, and that revelation was perceived by many to be a further testament to the film's flop. This as there is a subscription fee to watch the movie on YouTube Red, and without views, no funds are generated. Also, there is a chance that after being streamed on YouTube, the film may never make it to the big screen.

However, film commissioner Renee Robinson in an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, welcomed the news that the film is to be shown via YouTube, saying that digital distribution can be an extremely viable option for films and other TV productions.

"Globally, audience attendance at traditional cinemas is on the decline, and cord-cutting (getting rid of cable subscriptions in favour of online subscription) is becoming more favourable as a means of consuming content. Going direct to SVOD (subscription video on demand) does not indicate a value judgement for any film," she explained. "Digital distribution through SVOD platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and now YouTube Red is an extremely viable option for many forms of niche content and is becoming increasingly more prevalent as a first window of exhibition."




She went on to say that contrary to what many may think, the King of the Dancehall film benefited the local film industry a lot. She explained that the film was responsible for creating 181 temporary jobs between April 20 and May 8, 2015 when the film was being shot on the island.

In a July 2016 article, the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) revealed that the film raked in more than $58 million in linkages, and considered that as a boost of sorts for the local industry.

"Every international production that comes to film in Jamaica provides a boost for the local film industry, whether through on-the job-training for production crew or via the economic multiplier effect with spin-off employment, for example, in catering, drivers/transportation, carpenters, hotel rooms etc.," she said. "This film, in particular, highlighted Jamaica as a destination for film-making because of its high-profile premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), as well as the selection of lead actress (first-timer Kimberley Patterson) for the prestigious TIFF International Actors Programme, where she was given access to key Hollywood casting agents."

Robinson also pointed out that through the King of the Dancehall film, JAMPRO was able to lead a delegation of 20 Jamaican film-makers to the TIFF. That trip, she explained, allowed film-makers to receive significant market exposure and gave them the opportunity to conduct meetings with distributors, financiers and co-producing partners. She then went on to explain that direct impact from the King of the Dancehall film may be difficult to assess, as success from festival premieres could take a while.

The King of Dancehall film being picked up by YouTube Red will not spell good for Jamaica in terms of earnings from the film, as the majority of monies generated from the film through subscription viewing would be handed over to the film's creator. However, with content from YouTube Red being streamed in several countries including the USA, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and South Korea, it promises more exposure for the country, as not just a film destination, but one whose culture promises film-makers an infinite number of stories to be told.