After Amitabh Bachchan’s Gulabo Sitabo, more films set to see OTT releases

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Published: May 25, 2020 7:28 AM

With the theatres unlikely to be open at least for a few more months and losses piling up, producers are increasingly exploring streaming platforms to release their films.

Industry experts believe the absence of a theatrical release may not have resulted in any substantial loss to the producer. Industry experts believe the absence of a theatrical release may not have resulted in any substantial loss to the producer.

After Gulabo Sitabo and Shakuntala Devi, three more films — Anurag Basu’s Ludo, Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Jhund and Chhalaang featuring Rajkummar Rao — may soon premiere on OTT (over-the-top) platforms, industry sources have said.

With the theatres unlikely to be open at least for a few more months and losses piling up, producers are increasingly exploring streaming platforms to release their films.

For their part, Amazon Prime and Netflix are understood to be willing to stream these films. Atul Mohan, editor at Complete Cinema, told FE, Amazon, which bought the digital rights to Gulabo Sitabo earlier this month, may have paid the producers around 40-50% more than they would have, had there been a theatrical release. Film expert Komal Nahata said producers are getting more from the OTT platforms for foregoing the complete theatrical business. The Shoojit Sircar-directed movie, made on a budget of about `30-35 crore, was expected to earn about `80-100 crore at the box office.

Had there been a theatrical release, the producer would have shared the spoils with exhibitors and moreover, spent a handsome amount on marketing and promotions. Given this, industry experts believe the absence of a theatrical release may not have resulted in any substantial loss to the producer.

“OTT players may not mind paying a little more for exclusive content,” Mohan said.
The Producers Guild of India had said in an earlier statement that producers were losing large sums of money with the damage estimated at `500-600 crore in the last one-and-a half months. With no date in sight for cinemas to reopen, producers, it said, will seek out “all avenues available to recover their investment and to stay in business”.

There are some like producer and director Karan Johar who believes that if a film has been made to give viewers a theatrical experience and the producers can afford to wait it out, they should. In a television interview earlier this month, Johar said small and middle-rung movies may need to look at digital releases since big-budget films would be the first to be screened once the theatres are reopened. Johar’s Brahmastra is yet to complete 10-15 days of filming and is unlikely to meet the targeted December release.

Shibasish Sarkar, Group CEO, content, digital and gaming at Reliance Entertainment, said his firm aspires to release big-budget movies in the theatres. “We will try to hold the movies for the theatres to the extent possible,” Sarkar said. He added that even if theatres reopened nationwide during July-August, the firm would wait at least for a couple of months before screening films.

Read Also: As movie theatres look to open shop, all hopes pinned on big-budget films

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