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Coronavirus Effect: Bollywood Chooses OTT Platforms over Theatres for Movie Release

Theatre owners panic as filmmakers choose to release movies directly on OTT platforms amid the coronavirus scare

The novel coronavirus has impacted the economy severely all over the world. Every industry is reeling under its effect including the entertainment industry, and in order to avoid total collapse it is trying to reinvent itself and the process is changing the landscape completely. The effects can be seen in Bollywood.

As theatres have been ordered to remain close during the lockdown period, many filmmakers have decided to take their movies to video streaming platforms instead of queuing up for theatrical release when theatres reopen. This has induced panic among the theatre owners.

Several films are on the list, the biggest of which is Akshay Kumar starrer Laxxmi bomb that will be streamed on Disney+hotstar. Another one is director Shoojit Sarkar’s Amitabh Bachchan- and Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer Gulabo Sitabo, whose rights have been acquired by Amazon Prime Video.

Several films are under negotiation that includes two more Amitabh Bachchan films, Jhund and Chehre, Vidya Balan-starrer Shakuntala Devi-Human Computer, Bhumi Pednekar-starrer Durgavati, Karan Johar’s Gunjan Saxena-The Kargil Girl featuring Jahnvi Kapoor, and Anurag Basu-directed Ludo starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aditya Roy Kapur.

Though big releases like Sooryavanshi and ’83 will be released in theatres only as digital sales will not help recover their ₹100 crore plus budgets. Still, the movie is crucial for Bollywood, which has so far stuck to the eight-week window between theatrical and digital release.

OTT on the other side are also eager to please their audience with fresh content and are lapping up films that they view as exciting. While it means increased business for the films as a film like Gulabo Sitabo would normally sell for ₹20-25 crore to a digital platform post-theatrical release, its producers are now in a position to command more, possibly in excess of  ₹30 crores.

Though this means that the OTT platforms will be able to buy fewer films a year as they come with pre-allocated budgets for buying movies and cannot exceed that limit.

Only the future will tell how the present scenario will pan out.

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