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.