‘We never wanted to compete with the major streaming giants’: New platform spotlights Australian cinema classics

Australian film distributor Umbrella Entertainment has announced the launch of a free ad-supported streaming service with a focus on classic Australian film and television content.

Brollie will launch on November 23 with a catalogue of over 300 titles from the annals of Australian cinematic history, including stone cold classics like Two Hands, Cut, Erskineville Kings, Storm Boy, The Last Wave, and Walkabout.

Cinephiles who lived through the DVD era may recall that Umbrella Entertainment ruled the way when it came to DVD extras, and they’ll be making these special features available — something all streaming services should be doing — as well as launching the Brollie Film Club where an in-house team handpicks the best of the catalogue twice a month.

There are also themed collections: such as the Australian Nightmares collection of Aussie horror, and  an All Out Ozploitation collection of low-budget genre films from the ’70s and ’80s.

Basically, Brollie is offering a niche service with a level of curation missing from the larger services. There’s also a definite fan-nerd element, which is welcome in a market where quantity is key.

Brollie will be available through the Apple and Google Play Store, through Apple TV, Google TV and Android TV, through Chromecast with Google TV and at brollie.com.au.

Ari Harrison, general manager and head of sales and acquisitions at Umbrella Entertainment spoke to Mumbrella about what we can expect from Brollie.

This is a fantastic idea. How did this come about?

The idea started during Covid, with so many people watching new release films at home, but not being able to watch classic Australian films and TV.

We were getting lots of requests and with our major catalogue, we wanted to make them more accessible and free. We never wanted to compete with the major streaming giants.

How will Brollie be monetised?

Brollie is setup with ads in place. To sign up and watch is completely free, and with very minimal ads during the content.

We aim to utilise the ad space to market more Australian films in the catalogue, in cinemas, festivals and more, alongside general marketing ads.

Will the catalogue continue to grow – or is the idea to keep the collection rotating, and tightly curated?

The catalogue will grow and rotate at the same time. Brollie was built, at its heart, to service the audience and the classic Australian films.

If there is a request to have more titles on the platform, then we will absolutely do so. The idea of rotating films out is to keep the platform fresh and reduce the scroll fatigue that you can get on current platforms.

It’s early days – but have there been any discussions to integrate this service into Foxtel, or any of the smart TV menu systems?

We are in talks with various providers. At this stage, its readily available on all smartphones, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and most smart TVs.

Can you explain the idea of the podcast?

The podcast is a companion piece to Brollie. It’s an audio adventure into the history of Australians films and their impact with audiences and creatives in Australia and around the world.

Our host Alexei Toliopoulos is a film whisperer who explores various parts of our cinema history with over 50 filmmakers who built it. They explore genres, films, filmmakers, and more. The majority of the films discussed will be available on Brollie.

Brollie will launch November 23.


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