Before take off most of us have already made a short list of movies to keep us entertained but it’s what airlines do behind the scenes that will surprise you.
Before take off most of us have already made a short list of movies to keep us entertained but it’s what airlines do behind the scenes that will surprise you.

Secret you never knew about plane movies

Before the doors on the plane have been armed and cross checked for a long haul flight most of us have already made a short list of movies to keep us entertained. But have you ever wondered how they're chosen in the first place?

While some airlines outsource the in flight entertainment decisions others have panels of staff members who get together to debate which films will be taking to the skies.

Singapore Airlines has more than 70 movie buffs from various departments and countries to represent the places the airline operates. Vice President of Product Innovation, Mr Ng Yung Han, says Movie Review Committee members based in Singapore meet face-to-face every month, while overseas members provide their feedback via email.

"The Committee members' votes and reviews help to provide key insights into what's popular or controversial in their home countries and keep us in touch with trends or hot local releases."

There’s a method to the movies you watch on a plane.
There’s a method to the movies you watch on a plane.

Mr Ng says popularity, award-winning potential and cultural relevance are all key factors and once the votes are in the movies are on Singapore Airlines' planes as soon as possible, usually around three months after theatrical release dates for Hollywood features.

Passenger favourites are also taken into account when looking for new films, and customer feedback has led to entirely new categories being added to the KrisFlyer system. They may not be able to play requests on demand but it turns out there's no harm in asking for your favourite film. If enough people do the same it might just appear on future flights.

The first airline to install TV screens in every seat in its fleet back in 1992, Emirates has a relatively small in-flight team of around eight people who watch as many movies as they can each month and log their comments in a database.

Plug in, sit back, and be entertained.
Plug in, sit back, and be entertained.

While some airlines show different programs depending on where they're flying that day Emirates' ICE (Information, Communication, Entertainment) system gives all passengers the same content regardless of the route they're on with around 700 movies to choose from.

Over at Cathay Pacific their Entertainment, Platforms and Connectivity Manager, Simon Cuthbert says getting the right balance of languages and genres is key.

Considering the Chinese box office can have a Chinese, Hollywood, Japanese or Bollywood title at number one, Cuthbert says Cathay Pacific needs a huge variety of content to keep everyone entertained.

Their in-flight entertainment team works with local film experts and critics, while for regional films they also consult their outports to get a sense of how big a movie is locally, with at least 20 people involved in selecting the content.

Cuthbert says they usually purchase between 70 and 200 movies in a single month, and that some genres do better than others.

"We are always surprised at how well rom coms and comedies do on board, for instance. People will always seek out these kinds of movies when flying - I think we all enjoy a laugh and a love story."


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