Chennai

Exhibitors unhappy about OTT platforms curtailing theatre run

Karthi’s blockbuster Kaithi was made available on Hotstar, a popular video-streaming site, just 30 days after its release.

Karthi’s blockbuster Kaithi was made available on Hotstar, a popular video-streaming site, just 30 days after its release.  

‘This will affect movie-watching habits in the long term’

Theatre owners were left wringing their hands after actor Karthi’s blockbuster Kaithi was made available on Hotstar, a popular video-streaming site, just 30 days after its release.

This, despite the film continuing to attract substantial crowds in theatres across Tamil Nadu.

The action has prompted theatre owners to raise the issue of producers consenting to release movies on other platforms even before their theatrical run is complete. Ever since the advent of ‘satellite rights’, theatre owners and producers have been at loggerheads, disagreeing over whether theatres should be given preference over other mediums.

A cinema owner wrote on social media that while the availability of the film on an OTT platform would not have an immediate effect, it could have a more long-term effect on movie-watching habits of the audience. The argument is that the audience, which would otherwise go to a theatre to watch a movie that has generated considerable buzz, would now prefer to stream the film.

60-day run

Udeep Reddy, MD & CEO, Mayajaal Entertainment Limited, batted for a 60-day window for a movie to finish its run in theatres.

“It is understandable why producers do it — they are able to monetise the film even before the release. As a theatre owner, I feel 30 days is way too less. We don’t have a problem with ‘big event’ movies. We have around 10-15 movies (in all languages put together) every year that everyone would want to see. But movies of younger heroes, who can command great box office numbers, but aren’t ‘big event’ ones, will be given a miss by the audience. Theatres continue to be a major source of revenue for movies,” he argued.

Producer S.R. Prabhu, who runs Dream Warrior Pictures, seemed a bit surprised by the reaction of exhibitors, and claimed that all of his movies, since Joker, had released on OTT platforms within a month of their release in theatres. “Theatre owners want a 60-day window. Fine, but in Tamil Nadu, the pirated print from a theatre comes out on the first day from the theatres. The producer almost gets nothing as revenue from cinemas running it for the third or fourth week. So why should I not make my film available on OTT platforms on the 31st day,” he asked.

Mr. Prabhu said: “By making it available on OTT platforms in a month’s time, I can earn a substantial amount of money — much more than what I will earn screening the film in theatres in the third and fourth weeks. If you can’t stop piracy, and can’t give me a better share in the revenue in these weeks, let me monetise my product the way I want.”

The norm worldwide

Producer G. Dhananjayan said OTT platform releases after a month had become the norm around the world and the window would only become smaller.

“In fact, OTT platforms are trying to advance online release by a week. How many movies today are doing well in theatres beyond the third week? The money that producers get from OTT platforms is ‘guaranteed’ money. Theatre revenue is not guaranteed,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 3:09:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/exhibitors-unhappy-about-ott-platforms-curtailing-theatre-run/article30080641.ece

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