The days of cabin fever and thumb-twiddling until touchdown are long gone. Time spent airborne isn’t time wasted; the ways to tune in (or out) are nearly limitless. And that’s never been more true. In July 2019, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon launched a new, improved inflight entertainment service, with more content on offer fleet-wide. The amount of new movies has nearly doubled and will continue to rise as the year goes on.
The new catalogue includes one of the largest inflight Asian content libraries in the world, expanded wellness programming to help passengers relax mid-flight, twice the family-friendly content and double the number of HD movies available on HD screens.
‘One of our goals is to showcase entertainment that is lesser-known but still excellent, so you can experience something brand-new and special onboard,’ says Simon Cuthbert, Cathay Pacific’s Entertainment, Platforms and Connectivity Manager.
Long-haul flights offer the perfect opportunity to binge-watch a show. The airlines’ inflight entertainment offerings now include a collection of box sets, including both seasons of Killing Eve.
‘We crunch data to help our content curators select not only the critically acclaimed, but also the most relevant content for our passengers,’ says Cuthbert. These selections range from the latest blockbusters to independent movies passengers haven’t had the chance to catch in Hong Kong cinemas. The choices, says Cuthbert, can be ‘a conversation starter; something you gave a shot watching, and ended up surprised and delighted.’
Additional categories have been added to the inflight entertainment system to help passengers better navigate the wide range of content available. Cathay Pacific has also enlisted the expertise of MUBI, an online streaming service. Daniel Kasman, MUBI’s director of content, sees the plane cabin as an ideal viewing environment, and one that is not dissimilar to a cinema. ‘On a plane,’ he explains, ‘there is a degree of cosy isolation that is ideal to focus on immersing yourself in a picture – all that’s missing is the popcorn.’
As of July 2019, MUBI’s bringing its expertise in diverse and interesting content to Cathay Pacific, putting the spotlight on two films onboard. The first is modern-day Western film The Sisters Brothers, which Kasman describes as ‘rich with the characters and moral complexities of the best of the genre.’ The Sisters brothers are hitmen with a penchant for violence, who pursue a pair they believe are soon to strike gold.
The second film is a restored classic – the 1948 Italian neo-realist Bicycle Thieves – chosen ‘to get new audiences excited about old movies,’ says Kasman, and to ensure they are ‘preserved so that future generations can discover their wonder.’ Set in post-war Rome in all its harsh reality, in Bicycle Thieves Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani) lands one of the city’s elusive jobs – only to find his position in jeopardy after his bicycle is stolen. For Kasman and the MUBI team, Bicycle Thieves ‘defined an era in cinema, but transcends its time and place as one of the most heartbreaking and deeply felt of films.
Whether you’re an indie film aficionado or a loyal viewer of your favourite box sets, there’s something to appeal to every taste, says Cuthbert. ‘We want to service the mega-fan – and educate the enthusiast.’