The Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer movie premiered globally on Amazon Prime Video on June 12.
Bollywood director Shoojit Sircar, whose movie Gulabo Sitabo was the first to go for a direct-to-digital release, is “happy with the way the film has fared on the digital medium so far”. The Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer movie premiered globally on Amazon Prime Video on June 12.
Though the film was shot and conceived from a theatrical perspective, the Covid-19-induced lockdown and uncertainty around a concrete timeline for businesses to get back to normal prompted the decision to go for an OTT (over-the-top) launch, Sircar said at the Ficci Frames summit on Thursday.
Sircar pointed out, unlike most other film-makers he makes one movie at a time and the proceeds are used to fund his other projects, and so, holding a movie for long would not be commercially feasible. “There is a freshness and shelf life to a film. I make one film at a time…if I would have waited till August, I would have been in a minus. I have got a very secluded audience,” Sircar said.
He further said this trend was not the new normal and he “experimented” with a digital release. Further, producers are worried if their movies would get a proper theatrical window as there would be a rush of film releases once theatres resume operations.
The producers of Gulabo Sitabo reportedly earned Rs 65 crore, which more than covered for the film’s estimated Rs 35-crore budget. Sircar said he is aiming for a January 2021 theatrical release for his next movie, Sardar Udham Singh, though the timeline seems a bit daunting given that bulk of the post-production work is due. Vikram Malhotra, whose production Shakuntala Devi is slated for a launch on Amazon Prime Video on July 31, said opting for direct-to-digital releases is a “tactical decision” till the time normalcy resumes. However, Malhotra said he doesn’t believe OTT platforms are just an alternative in the current times since theatres are shut. As OTTs take movies to a broader global audience, they (direct-to-digital films) are treated with the “same respect as a theatrical release”. The idea is to principally go “where our customers are”, Malhotra said.
Disney+Hotstar is set to premiere seven films between July and October starting with Dil Bechara on July 24. Netflix has acquired Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl.
OTT platforms have recorded a surge in subscriptions during the lockdown period and this development seems to be indicative of a habit formation rather than an offshoot of a prolonged lockdown, Saugata Mukherjee, head of original content at SonyLIV, said. The pandemic may have “expedited the process of cord-cutting”, Mukherjee added.
The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) had earlier cited the prevailing practice of “exclusive theatrical window” to urge studios and content creators to hold pending releases until theatres are reopened.