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OTT Is The Only Way Ahead For Cinema



Netflix, Amazon, Disney-Hotstar, Applause Entertainment  …get used  to them around you. In the coming months, you will be  hearing a lot more  from them. Sources  inform that these four major OTT players are  stockpiled with  content for  at least  the next two years.And  more coming up.

  Movie theatres  would find it more and  more difficult to fill their seats with bums as there will be no movies  worth  braving the  Covid for. From what I hear, even some  of the  biggest  films  with  super A-listers which have grandly announced  their  release dates in movie theatres in the coming weeks  and months, are now reconsidering their decision.

 At  least two  of the  purported  blockbusters lined up in  the coming months  are  “seriously  re-negotiating their release strategy” and may soon  have to switch platforms , seeing the  way  Covidis resurging.

A  producer who is in talks with  Amazon  for his big-budgeted  movie rights ,  says it is  the need  of the hour. “I know  I said I’d never  sell-out to the digital platform. But  just being a theatre loyalist  is  not enough. The  pandemic  is  getting worse by the day. Where  is  the  hope for a recovery? The guidelines  to enter theatres—if they  remain open at all—would get stricter. You tell me  why would  any family be expected  to  make that  arduous trip to  a theatre? Why should I as  a  producer, expect them  to? I wouldn’t take  my family to  a movie  theatre at this  point  of time. It is  unfair and  also immoral to ask moviegoers  to  get back into theatres at a time when Covid cases  are  increasing.”

 Let’s face  it. The  movie business is  for now  over. God willing  it may revive in the  future. But for  now those  big announcements  for the movie  theatres are  , sadly, illusory. Even as I write this,some  of  them are  negotiating  with  the  prominent  digital platform  which are offering staggering off-the-shelf  amounts  for  the  biggies.

One star-studded  film scheduled  for  theatres mid-year is being offered  Rs 150  crores upfront  by a  digital platform . This kind  of  instant  returns  at a time when theatres are struggling for survival is not just hard to resist,  it  is  foolish to even  think of a  theatre release.

“Given the  pandemic scenario I  won’t be able to  get that  kind of money from movie theatres in this  lifetime. Yes I’m planning to  crossover.  You can call me  a  deserter. But it’s the  need of  the  hour. Just to show my  loyalty to the movie-theatre business I can’t ruin my  prospects,” a  filmmaker who is readying one  of the  year’s most awaited films tells me.

Where  does that  leave the  movie theatres?  I leave that  question unanswered.

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