Survival of the Fittest
Updated: Jul 22, 2020
The pandemic has undoubtedly affected all industries but the Bollywood film industry, specifically has been hit on an unprecedented scale.
Giving rise to the big debate-OTT Platforms v/s Theatrical Release
There has been no real industry consensus for the same , but most filmmakers/ producers are advancing towards digital platforms. For as long as I can remember, films that were deemed “not fit for the theatres” were the ones that were streamed online. However now, it is evidently a viable option even for the Big-Ticket Bollywood films.
Just recently, Disney+ Hotstar announced the launch of Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex providing a whole new experience of First Day First Show ki Home Delivery, giving the audiences something to look forward to in these trying times, especially binge- watchers, like me. People, even in rural areas with ubiquitous internet connectivity are now able to afford the multiplex experience, owing it to such platforms. The accessibility and convenience that an OTT platform offers is just WOW! On numerous occasions, I’ve started watching a movie post midnight and then fallen asleep and picked up right where I left off, the next day.
The exponential growth of OTT platforms, even gives an opportunity to aspiring filmmakers to thrive, guaranteeing a minimum number of eyeballs, which wasn’t the case prior to the pandemic. Additionally, films made with frugal budgets have all the more chances to recoup their initial investments.
On the flip side,
Theatre owners are disconcerted with the change from the theatrical window run, clearly seen in their bold statements. Large amounts have been spent on the infrastructure of cinema halls and apart from the steady revenue, cinemas like Inox and PVR generate numerous employment opportunities. The decision made for direct digital releases will impact millions, as well as the box office, which yields thousands of crores of rupees each year.
Several surveys show, that a large group of people who have been at home for over 3 months now , are more than willing to leave for a safe outing to the cinema. However, even after normalcy arises, cinemas will face a huge predicament due to the lack of new content, as film shootings globally have come to a halt and the remaining films that are ready, would have already been aired digitally by then.
The sporadicity for the exhibition and distribution sector will continue even post certain relaxations, as it is likely that the capacity per screen, will reduce to 30% to maintain the norms of social distancing. So no matter how great the film may be, the revenue will be limited.
Certain films, especially big budget ones like Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi, are made keeping in mind the ultimate cinema experience. So a digital release would do the film no justice.
The cinema experience is definitely an irreplaceable one, and it is highly unlikely that it will cease to exist post the current turmoil. However, certain changes and compromises will have to be made to adapt to the “new normal” because OTT platforms are here to stay.