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OTT Vs Theatres It’s An Open War



By refusing  to  release  in theatres  the films that have recently been  streaming  on the  OTT platform, the multiplex chains have  made it very clear  to producers that  they can’t have their cake  and  eat it to.

Choose between a theatrical and  digital  release, and you can’t do both.

“We’d rather go with older theatrical  releases the ones that  suffered  when Covid19 struck,  than the newer ones that  were  force-streamed  on  the digital  platform by  impatient greedy producers who  had no  confidence in their  products,” says  the CEO of  a prominent  multiplex chain  who thinks it’s time to teach “erring producers”(the ones who  “dared” to release on digital)  a lesson.

“We may place a lifetime ban on  producers who  took their films to OTT,” says  the head honcho of the  multiplex.

This sounds far-fetched  and  myopic. One  is sure that  pretty soon all will be sorted out.

Says  trade analyst Atul Mohan, “It was expected. The multiplexes would  prefer to showcase content which has worked at ticket counters. Most of the OTT-premiered content have been written off  or  rejected and carry poor reviews. Why would someone come and spend monies on them?  Globally also the cinemas have reopened by showcasing old hits, so the same pattern is adopted here also. Right now it’s not about making money from the ticket sales but to make audience comfortable and safe which will take little time.”

Trade expert Girish  Johar  feels cinema  exhibitors  have  every right to safeguard their interests. “As we move into stage  5 of the unlock , in most part of the country the cinemas and multiplexes  are opening. This is after a massive  7-month halt due the pandemic. There is immense joy not only amongst the exhibition fraternity and the film fraternity,  but also  the audiences too.”

Johar feels  exhibitors need to  try every  means to regain the  audiences’ confidence. “Though initially they will be very watchful and  careful  there is an overall feeling of relief, as we  return  to  normalcy. Given the scenario, the multiplexes have  rightly taken a stand on not screening nor releasing OTT films, while they struggle to get the business back on track. The cinemas know, very rightly, that India has a tradition-based entertainment model and cinema, which is spread in length and  breadth of the country, is a very popular mass entertainment medium. In no way, the cinemas  would want it to be a secondary screen. They would want it to be the FIRST, EXCLUSIVE & PRIMARY screen for new content always. They wouldn’t want to give up their dominant position. So embracing a little more tough times, they are willing to bear some more losses  but yet be very clear, in the form of differential window between theatrical & OTT.I think we need to respect that.”

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