Simultaneous release on both OTTs and single screens: A feasible possibility for Bollywood?
OTT vs theatres is one debate which refuses to die down. Covid 19 strengthened the former to such an extent, that it today stands as a fierce competitor to the big screen experience. But with things changing rapidly, the possibilities look quite a few.
Rumours doing the rounds suggest that the makers of Varun Dhawan- Sara Ali Khan’s Coolie No 1 are thinking about releasing the film simultaneously on an OTT platform, which was announced some time back, and single screens too now that the theatres are reopening. But is it a feasible option? Could it indeed be a possibility considering OTTs would signs deals that benefit them and their subscription count?
Trade analyst Joginder Tuteja says, “Yes, it is a viable option. How successful it could be, honestly no one knows. For Khaali Peeli, which released on a pay-per-view online, and in drive in theatres too in two states, it was hardly a parallel release. It’s all about negotiations. When it was put together back then, theatres were not open, and makers didn’t know if they would be in December. In this case, the 2 parties, OTT and producers arrived at a settlement, and if they do now, then of course it’s possible.”
Exhibitors on their part say that the Multiplex Association of India (MIA) has anyway declared that they won’t screen OTT films on the big screen. Pranav Garg, exhibitor and managing director, Maya Palace multiplex, Muzaffarnagar, tells us, “And four-five multiplexes such as PVR and Carnival are a part of this union. They have made up their mind of not exhibiting any film that released before or after the lockdown on OTT. This is just a rumour, and unless major players also agree. I don’t think there will be too much share they will get from single and national multiplex chain. Moreover, a person who has sold rights must have taken an undertaking why he/she’s selling off the rights.”
Arguing on the theatre owner’s behalf is Manoj Desai, executive director of G7 Multiplex and Maratha Mandir cinema, Mumbai, who says that for even theatre-solo releases, such as the recent Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari, makers laid down tough conditions. “They asked for 50 percent profit sharing for two weeks. Five of our shows got cancelled. These actions don’t suit them. We theatre owner’s are in ICCU, and need oxygen. And we will earn that kind of money when the film works. The audience isn’t ready to come yet. Delhi has had a rise in Covid 19 cases. But if they offer to screen both on OTT and single screens together, why not?”
Whether makers can back or alter a deal is what’s doubtful, considering, specifically in the case of Coolie No 1, the OTT has already locked a release date in advance. Anand Pandit, who will premiere his film The Big Bull solo on an OTT platform, says, “Before signing the deal, the makers can eep an option open with the platform, that we will go to theatres after say 15-20 days. Secondly, they mutually decide to go for a theatrical release and when it is a good time. Because there are finances involved, let’s say today I amde a deal for 100 crores with an OTT for a film, and giving them all the rights, But tomorrow, I tell them I can reduce the 100 crores and take just 60 in return for the theatrical rights for after three days. They can take a business call.”