Is OTT ideal for Indian filmmakers to release big-budget films?

Team Udayavani, Jul 16, 2020, 10:29 AM IST

Following the COVID-19 spread around the globe, the entertainment industry has come to a halt. Many films that were under production were stopped along with other theatrical runs.

The movies that were scheduled to release in this summer were postponed indefinitely. The people who work in the industry were severely impacted including major producers and production houses.

The only option that looked feasible for the filmmakers who had the film ready to release was releasing movies digitally in Over-the-top platforms skipping the theatrical release.

Amazon Prime video brought the steaming rights of movies Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushman Khurana starrer Gulabo Sitabo, Vidya Balan’s ‘Shakuntala Devi‘, Tamil legal drama ‘Ponmagal Vandhal‘, Malayalam film ‘Sufiyum Sujathayum’, Tamil and Telugu film ‘Penguin’’ and two Kannada movies  — ‘French Biryani‘ and ‘Law’.

Netflix that that keep releasing original movies on a regular basis continued its releases with films like Choked-Paisa bolta hai, Chaman Bahar, What are the odds?, and Bulbul. It is also gearing up to launch Janhvi Kapoor starrer ‘Gunjan Saxena’.

Disney + Hotstar, on the other hand, had bought the premier rights to eight Bollywood movies including Akshay Kumar’s ‘Laxmmi Bomb’, Ajay Devgan’s ‘Bhuj: The Prime of India’, and Mahesh Bhatt’s ‘Sadak 2’ and Sushant Singh Rajput starrer-‘Dil Bechara.’

Despite all these releases in OTT platforms there are some producers who decided to wait for the pandemic to get over so that the audience can experience their movies on silver screens.

“Sooryavanshi”, directed by Rohit Shetty, was originally scheduled to release on March 24 and Kabir Khan-helmed “’83” was set to hit the cinema houses on April 10. However, due to the COVID-19, they had to postpone the movies.

Production House Reliance Entertainment has decided to release “Sooryavanshi” on Diwali, while Ranveer Singh-starrer “‘83” on Christmas later this year.

In the end, a question remains in many people’s mind is why big budget film makers shy away from OTT platforms. The OTT platforms have a long way to be a preferred choice for big budget movies.

The direct OTT launch helps to be an easy way for low-budget movies like ‘Gulabo Sitabo’, ‘Penguin’ and many others to gain profits. It also helps the makers reach mass audience with little to no cost along with ensuring a return on investment. However, this option might not be ideal with big-budget films in India.

When Telugu fantasy movie, Bahubali-2: The conclusion released in 2017, it was made with a budget of Rs. 250 Crores and made an estimated business of Rs. 1,810 crore globally which is nearly more than 6 times the actual budget of the film.

This goes the same with Rajnikanth starrer-2.0 which was a sequel of Enthiran(Robot). This movie was made on a budget of Rs. 570 crore and bagged close to Rs. 800 crores in box office.

When we look at both these examples it shows that no producers of big budget films would be interested in releasing such films in OTT platforms directly purely because of their mass theatrical releases globally and higher box office earrings, which cannot be expected from online releases.

At this moment, we can expect the OTT platforms to be release lower budget films that may not have got a bigger audience around the globe which streaming platforms provide.


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