Disney-owned video streaming service Disney+ Hotstar will premiere seven Hindi movies that were originally slated for a theatrical release, in a move that could intensify the tussle between multiplexes and movie producers.
These movies will be streamed between July to October this year, starting with late Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer ‘Dil Bechara’ on July 24. Other movies include Akshay Kumar-Kiara Advani’s ‘Laxmmi Bomb’, Alia Bhatt-Aditya Roy Kapur-starrer ‘Sadak 2’, Abhishek Bachchan’s ‘The Big Bull’, Vidyut Jammwal’s ‘Khuda Haafiz’, Ajay Devgn-Sanjay Dutt’s ‘Bhuj’ and Kunal Khemu’s ‘Lootcase’.
This comes after similar deals by rivals Amazon Prime Video that picked up seven Bollywood and regional films including Amitabh Bachchan-Ayushmann Khurrana’s ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ and Vidya Balan-starrer ‘Shakuntala Devi’ last month for a direct-to-digital premiere and Netflix that picked up Janhvi Kapoor-starrer ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’ earlier this month.
Read: Film producers and multiplexes at loggerheads over video streaming releases
Multiplexes have been miffed with movie producers for not holding back their movie releases to honour the exclusive theatrical window of eight weeks and instead directly going to streaming platforms. Theatrical window is the duration between a movie’s release in theatres and its debut on other platforms.
That said, there is still uncertainty over when movie theatres will be allowed to re-open across the country, after they were forced to shutdown in March this year, due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown. While the government has eased restrictions for businesses across various sectors, it is yet to provide a specific date for reopening of cinema halls.
Even when they are given a go-ahead to reopen, footfalls will likely be capped to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Also, there will likely be a huge backlog of film releases, that will lead to sub-optimal showcasing of small and mid-budget films. Hence, movie producers with ready to release films are looking to offset carrying losses and protect their investments through these deals.
“Producers who have already invested heavily in their films with theatrical revenue assumptions that are no longer feasible, will seek out all avenues available to recover their investment and to stay in business,” the Producers Guild of India had said in a statement last month.
Statement from Producers Guild of India https://t.co/WCeX3zMlsh
— producersguildindia (@producers_guild) 1589517078000
It further added that a theatrical release will always be the preference for movies that were conceptualised as cinematic experiences. “These are unprecedented times. For producers to continue to keep producing the movies that light up our cinema screens, they need to continue to be in business in the first place.”
Other players in the space include Times Internet*-owned MX Player, ALTBalaji, Sony LIV, and Viacom18’s Voot among others.
More to follow
*Disclosure: Times Internet owns ETtech