Cinema is one of the most affected industries due to the sudden outbreak of COVID-19. Where the release and production of films have been put on hold indefinitely, sets are also getting demolished. It has been reported that Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Gangubai Kathiawadi’s elaborated brothel set has been razed to the ground due to hefty rent charges.
In such a scenario, makers are opting for OTT platforms instead of waiting for a theatrical release. The video streaming platforms are also dishing out the best of the fresh contents to please the audience stuck at home due to lockdown.
Where several big and small budget films are still on negotiations with the platforms, Amazon Prime Video announced the release of Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana starer ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ on Twitter on Thursday.
“This June 12 join us first-day first show for #WorldPremiereOnPrime of Gulabo Sitabo! They say opposites attract. In this case, to wreck things up …”
Other films which are reported to be aiming for OTT release is Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Laxmmi Bomb’, whose co-producers Fox Star Studio will stream the horror-comedy on their own video platform Disney+Hotstar as per the people associated with its development.
Amazon Prime also announced the release of Vidya Balan starrer ‘Shakuntala Devi’. Balan took to micro-blogging site Twitter to announce the news “Delighted to announce that you will get to see #ShakuntalaDevi very soon on @PrimeVideo with all your loved ones. Thrilled that we will be able to entertain you in these unprecedented times. #WorldPremiereOnPrime #ShakuntalaDeviOnPrime”
However, only films which can be recovered streaming on the video streaming platforms are approaching OTTs. Such as ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ which was made in a budget of 25 Crore “would normally sell for 20-25 Crore to a digital platform post-theatrical release”.
But films which are made in 100 Crore plus budget cannot be released on the video streaming platforms. A producer who remained anonymous said to Livemint that
“Tentpoles such as Sooryavanshi and 83 are anyway out of reach for OTTs (because digital sales will not help recoup their 100 crore plus budgets) and they will push people to theatres whenever they reopen…”
Further, some of the films which opened in theatres but couldn’t perform at the box office because of the lockdown such as Kareena Kapoor Khan, late-Irrfan Khan starrer ‘Angrezi Medium‘ was soon taken by Disney+Hotstar.
Vijay Subramanium, director and head of content at Amazon Prime Video India said that
“The theatrical experience is very important. That’s why we insist on picking movies that have a theatrical release. We know it’s very important community exercise.”
Soon after the lockdown was announced, Amazon Prime took some of the biggest theatrical releases streaming them on their platforms such as Todd Phillip’s ‘Joker’, Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’, Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning 2019 film ‘Parasite. Some of the big 2019 Hindi films streaming on the same platform are Saif Ali Khan starrer ‘Jawaani Jaaneman‘, Ayushmann Khurrana starrer ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan‘. Imtiaz Ali’s 2020 love saga ‘Love Aaj Kal‘ is also streaming on Netflix.
Other films which are most likely to premiere on OTTs are Karan Johar’s Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl starring Jahnvi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan’s Jhund and Chehre, Anurag Basu’s Ludo starring Abhishek Bachchan, Sanya Malhotra, Aditya Roy Kapur.
However, exact dates are yet to be confirmed by the makers and the associates of the Video Streaming platforms. Despite the fate of the theatres, for the audience it’s a win-win situation when it comes to entertainment.