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Back To A 8-Week Window Between Theatre & OTT Release?




It is  erroneously  believed by cinema exhibitors  that one major reason why  films  have lately been flopping  left right and  centre is because of  the narrow window between theatrical and OTT releases.

It is now being unofficially reported  that from August 1, the gap between the  theatre and OTT release  is being widened  from four weeks  to eight weeks.

Devang Sampat, CEO, Cinepolis India, is quoted as saying,  “There was no rule as such. It was an understanding between the producers and exhibitors . But now, the producers themselves have reached out to us and stressed on the exclusivity window for theatrical release.”

However  a prominent producer refutes Sampat’s  claim as presumptuous .  “Who  is this  man to speak on  our behalf?  We have  not reached out to mutliplexes  for a larger window to release  on OTT. There are  watertight contracts  on OTT releases with  the mainstream  streamers  Netflix, Amazon and  Disney+Hostar. These can’t be changed on whim.”

If  true, then will  the decision  to  extend the gap between theatre and  OTT release,   help the  boxoffice collection?

Opines   trade guru Taran Adarsh,  “An 8 week window between theatrical and OTT release is a must. I personally feel it will help generate footfalls. The decision is most welcome, a step forward in reviving the industry.”

“I don’t think so. No matter how wide the gap  between cinema and  OTT  people won’t go to theatres  to see Anek, Jugjugg Jeeyo and Shabaash Mithu. Bollywood needs to improve  its content drastically.  Or  perish,” says Bihar’s prominent  exhibitor Suman Sinha.

Trade analyst and producer Girish  Johar says, “Since the audiences were dwindling in the cinemas, as they preferred to wait for few weeks and  watch the new releases at lower prices and in the    comfort of their homes, the filmmakers realised that this habit will not be fruitful in the long run. So like the South Fraternity, the Hindi makers decided, with the OTT players, to have back the eight weeks windowing.”

Girish  feels  producers are not left with much of  a choice , given the shrinking audience  in theatres. “Since the OTT were not paying as  cash-rich as before, it was a but logical decision to strengthen the exhibition revenue chain. Further, the pandemic has more or less subsided so it’s safe for audiences to come back  into  theatres. Hence this critical move to  expand  the  gap between  theatre  and  OTT releases   is being made. It will surely add some percentage  of audiences back to theaters and  will give some more breather to the exhibition revenue exploitation.  Eight  weeks is a big gap and we, as a fraternity hope that it will entice the audiences back to theatres. It will also help makers to get more revenues from OTT, as they are now moving into post-theatrical rights pegging their price with BO performance.”

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