COVID-19 impact: Mani Ratnam pitches for big stars to reduce costs; future of digital, OTT platforms in focus

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Published: May 29, 2020 6:02 PM

Talking of internal reforms, Ratnam also hinted at the expectation of some help from the government to keep the industry afloat.

Addressing this issue, the veteran filmmaker spoke at length about the need to bring down costs in order to get the film to the audience and to make filmmaking viable .Addressing this issue, the veteran filmmaker spoke at length about the need to bring down costs in order to get the film to the audience and to make filmmaking viable . (File image)

COVID-19 impact: As the impact of the lockdown is being felt across India’ s film industry, producers, directors and technicians are looking at solutions to bring an overall cost reduction in their operations. Mani Ratnam has set the way forward with a statement that big stars and technicians can help cut costs by reducing the price. Speaking at the Southern Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), Ratnam made an outright pitch for cutting costs, news agency PTI reproted.

The Chamber had organized a webinar discussion to discuss the future of movies and entertainment. With no notification in place regarding the opening of theatres, a theatrical release of upcoming films across the country seems unlikely.

Addressing this issue, the veteran filmmaker spoke at length about the need to bring down costs in order to get the film to the audience and to make filmmaking viable .

Talking of internal reforms, Ratnam also hinted at the expectation of some help from the government to keep the industry afloat. The lock down has dealt a severe blow to the sector forcing the industry leaders to look at new ways to stay afloat.

Endorsing the business reset pitch, Shibasish Sarkar, CEO Reliance Entertainment, said mega movies release (in the pipeline) had been adversely hit. Citing Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Sooryavanshi’ and Ranveer Singh-led ’83’, he stated that cost-cutting of these films is ‘impossible’ because they were just on the verge of being released when the lockdown had been announced.

So, what are the options for new films in the pipeline?

In Sarkar’s words, as per PTI report, there are three streams of revenue for films that are likely to be affected. These include domestic theatrical, overseas theatrical and broadcasting rights. With the overall current situation across the country right now, he pointed out that broadcasters lost nearly 85 per cent of their ad revenue during the last two months.

“If they won’t earn, they won’t pay the same amount of money for satellite,” he said, highlighting the reality.

COVID-19 impact: What about digital revenues for domestic and international releases?

With domestic and international theatrical releases adversely hit, the future of digital looks bright given that it is emerging as a viable option.

Sarkar indicated the strengthening of digital revenues in lieu of satellite based broadcasting and theatrical releases.

There’s a need for innovation on the part of actors, technicians and producers who must embrace the cut in revenues but also work in restructuring the way the film industry functioned, he averred.

The bright future of digital rests on the shoulders of OTT as a medium which is shaping up as a window of opportunity for the film industry.

Major films (Hindi and regional) up for release are now slated to go digital with OTT as a preferred platform. It is already a well established fact that OTT platforms have received a viewership boost during the lockdown time.

From JJ Fredrick’s much anticipated Jothika starrer Ponmagal Vandhal to a Hindi film like Gulabo Sitabo starring Bollywood bigwigs like Amitabh Bacchan and Ayushmann Khurrana now releasing on OTT, a new trend is visible.

With no notification yet on the reopening of theatres, rest of the film fraternity may likely follow suit and opt for OTT as their chosen platform for upcoming releases.

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