ONE Championship has been on a roll recently with record viewing numbers, star signings, and international television deals. It appears that every other week the Singapore-based promotion is generating new headlines. However, their recent announcement that the company was launching ONE Studios, its own in-house movie and TV division, caught many people by surprise.
In an exclusive interview with Lowkick MMA, Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, discussed where the idea came from, and what the news means for ONE’s athletes.
“I had this idea about a year ago, after a trip to Japan where I meet CEOs of all the major entertainment companies. I realized the business model in Asia, in terms of thinking of how to add value and help our talent, our athletes monetize, I realized that actually, Asia was way ahead of the U.S. if you look at the entertainment business model here in Asia,” Sityodtong said speaking to Lowkick MMA.
“We are helping to unleash these heroes, we view our athletes as partners in each other’s mutual success, we want to be able to add value to their revenue streams and offer them multiple revenue streams while their career is going on, but also after, when they retire.”
How ‘The Rock” Helped Inspire This Idea
Sityodtong cites professional wrestler turned actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as an example of someone who has successfully transitioned from the athletic arena to the big screen.
“If you think about it, Dwayne Johnson had a very similar career. He was a WWE champion, and then he left WWE,” Chatri noted.
“Eventually a Hollywood director took a chance on him and picked him up, and since then he has become the biggest movie star in the world.
“So that was sort of the genesis, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s story as well as with what I saw in Japan how the Asian talent entertainment companies try their best to obviously build their heroes and unleash them but at the same time trying to think of how to create win-win opportunities for everyone.”
It will not be the case that every athlete signed to ONE Championship will automatically become an actor, but the opportunity to participate in projects will be there for those interested, who demonstrate talent and are willing to put in the necessary work.
“It can’t be applicable to all fighters; just like in life [in] every industry you have the top of the industry who are able to make a living. So, it’s not offered to all athletes in ONE Championship, but at least all athletes in ONE Championship’s roster have an equal chance of earning an invitation to participate in ONE Studios with TVs and movie shows.
“It’s obviously up to the athletes to take advantage of this opportunity and the fact that we are the only global promotion who has this opportunity – that’s what makes it interesting,” Sityodtong says.
Collaborating With World Class Talent
The company will produce in-house projects as well as collaborate with outside parties when the occasion calls for it. ONE’s current broadcast deals will also play a role in helping distribute content.
“We have already fleshed out the business model, some productions we will do 100 percent on our own because we have the capability in-house already and other ones, we will co-produce with name directors around the world and lots of different content production houses, who have world-class capabilities’.
“We’re in a lucky situation of being able to distribute this content across 140 countries where we have broadcast business relationships, partnerships already, and of course Netflix and Amazon studios and all the rest will also be a place for distribution.”
The aim will be for ONE Studios to produce content covering a range of genres in multiple languages. ONE has connections throughout Asia, and it makes sense to leverage these connections to the best of their abilities.
“These are huge markets, if we do an Indonesian movie with an Indonesian hero that is 270 million people, China a billion people, India a billion [and] three, so these can be huge blockbuster hits on their own.”
Thankfully, fans will not have to wait too long for further news.
“We have been working on a movie project [for] the last several months. I am super excited for our first movie project,” Sityodtong added.
The sky looks to be the limit for what ONE Studios can achieve, and no doubt there will be plenty of interest in its upcoming cinematic debut.