Amazon to premiere 7 Indian movies exclusively as Covid-19 hits theatre chains

With movie theatres closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, content creators now bet on the OTT platforms. 

| Updated on: May 15 2020, 14:46 IST
Amazon to host exclusive premier of 7 Indian movies
Amazon to host exclusive premier of 7 Indian movies (Amazon)
Amazon to host exclusive premier of 7 Indian movies
Amazon to host exclusive premier of 7 Indian movies (Amazon)

Amazon is set to premier as many as seven Indian movies on its platform in the next three months. These movies include “Gulabo Sitabo” featuring actors such as Amitabh Bachhan and Ayushmann Khurana. Another “Shakuntala Devi” features Vidya Balan. The move to release the films on OTT platforms, however, has drawn criticism from the movie theatre chains. 

Amazon on Friday said it will release the new movies on Prime Video over  the next three months and will be available in 200 countries and territories worldwide. Apart from Gulabo Sitabo and Shankuntala Devi, Amazon will release legal drama Ponmagal Vandhal starring Jyotika (Chandramukhi) in addition to Keerthy Suresh (Mahanathie) starrer Penguin (Tamil and Telugu), Sufiyum Sujatayum (Malayalam), Law (Kannada) and French Biryani (Kannada).

“At Prime Video we believe in listening to what our consumers want and working backwards from there. This belief is the genesis of our latest offering,” said Vijay Subramaniam, Director and Head, Content, Amazon Prime Video, India. “Over the last 2 years, Prime Video has become the destination of choice for our customers to watch new releases, across the languages, within weeks of their theatrical release. Now we're taking this one step further, with seven of India's most-anticipated films premiering exclusively on Prime Video, bringing the cinematic experience to their doorstep.”

The pushback

As said earlier movie theatre chains such as Inox have expressed displeasure over the decision. According to a TechCrunch report, the movies were scheduled for the theatrical release. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has shut down movie theatres, forcing several releases to be deferred.

Inox urged the content creators not to skip the theatrical run.

“INOX would like to express extreme displeasure and disappointment on an announcement made by a production house today, to release their movie directly on an OTT platform by skipping the theatrical window run. The decision of the production house to deviate from the globally prevalent content windowing practice is alarming and disconcerting,” it said in a release.

PVR also stressed the need for theatrical release. 

“As PVR we believe that the theatrical release is the best way for audiences to experience the labor and creative genius of our filmmakers. This has been so for decades and not just in India but globally. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has caused an unfortunate shutdown of cinemas. We are confident, once we get to the other side of this crisis, there would be enough and more pent up demand from cine-goers who have been cooped up at homes for the last many weeks. We are likely to see demand by force on a sustained basis, once we reopen. Needless to say, we are disappointed with some of our Producers deciding to go straight to the streaming platform/s. We were hoping that the Producers would accede to our request to hold back their film's release till cinemas reopen. That said, this is not the first time films are being premiered on a streaming platform/s. Cinema exhibition has regularly faced competition from new emerging distribution platforms over the last many years, and it has continued to enjoy cine-goers patronage and affinity. I would also like to use this opportunity to express our appreciation for all the producers who have publicly voiced their support for the theatrical platform and have decided to reschedule their releases to accommodate the reopening of cinemas”, Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures said in a release.

Content creators' dilemma 

With theatrical releases stalled, content creators are looking at ways to reach masses and more importantly monetise the existing content. While the OTT rights are additional revenue for them, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced them to re-consider. 

Ronnie Lahiri, co-producer of “Gulabo Sitabo”, in an interview to Huffington Post India hinted that they didn't make lot of money from the OTT rights. 

“We're facing a once-in-a-lifetime phenomena, not seen since World War 2. These are the times when things change. Initially, people have apprehensions but one has to adapt. That's how human civilisations have prospered. The minute we stop adapting, we're done. Instead of waiting for the situation to get better, you tackle it with other alternatives,” he is quoted as saying.

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First Published Date: 15 May, 14:27 IST
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