Screen Villain: Radhe’s digital release pinches theatre-owners, but their decision to boycott the film is flawed

By: |
May 14, 2021 6:30 AM

In any case, digital/OTT is a front of competition that theatre-owners have to contend with; while the pandemic may have pushed up OTT/digital viewership, nominal data rates and sachet-pricing for OTT subscriptions for viewing on phone-screens have been important factors too.

But, the fact is Radhe’s producers can’t be blamed for wishing to avoid losses due to the second wave of the pandemic by going for a theatre-first release, with theatres in major cities already shut per force because of local lockdowns, and the fear of contracting the infection preventing many regular cinema-goers from going to the theatres.But, the fact is Radhe’s producers can’t be blamed for wishing to avoid losses due to the second wave of the pandemic by going for a theatre-first release, with theatres in major cities already shut per force because of local lockdowns, and the fear of contracting the infection preventing many regular cinema-goers from going to the theatres.

The decision of multiplexes to boycott Salman-Khan starrer Radhe—Khan’s home production, in association with others—because of the move to release the movie online is a prosaic ‘cut nose to spite face’ case. Certainly, the decision of the producers to sell the distribution, satellite and digital rights to Zee, with release on its pay-per-view OTT platform ZeePlex and streaming service ZEE5, will pinch theatre-owners; and, in these trying times for the business, this may evoke sympathy for the multiplexes. But, the fact is Radhe’s producers can’t be blamed for wishing to avoid losses due to the second wave of the pandemic by going for a theatre-first release, with theatres in major cities already shut per force because of local lockdowns, and the fear of contracting the infection preventing many regular cinema-goers from going to the theatres.

In any case, digital/OTT is a front of competition that theatre-owners have to contend with; while the pandemic may have pushed up OTT/digital viewership, nominal data rates and sachet-pricing for OTT subscriptions for viewing on phone-screens have been important factors too. Producers will, without doubt, see value in tapping this audience at a time when theatres present a losing proposition. It is not as if all hope is lost for theatres. As vaccination coverage increases—and this will happen despite the current shortage—chances are life will return to the pre-pandemic normal just enough for cinema-goers to be able to flock to the theatres; already, evidence of this is emerging from countries that have managed to vaccinate large proportions of their population. Indeed, those that have managed to push down infections with hard lockdowns (China, New Zealand) are also seeing some semblance of normalcy return.

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