New Delhi: Amazon Prime Video has got the digital streaming rights to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s romantic period drama Padmavati, starring Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, said three people familiar with the development.
“We’ve got the film but the papers have not been signed yet," said an Amazon executive and one of the people cited above. They didn’t want to be named as the deal is yet to be made public.
While the size and terms of the deal couldn’t be ascertained, media industry estimates show the online streaming rights for Padmavati have been sold for between Rs20-25 crore.
An Amazon India spokesperson said, “We do not comment on rumours or speculation."
Scheduled for a 17 November release, the estimated budget of the film is around Rs180 crore, making it one of India’s most expensive movie productions, said a trade expert who declined to be named.
About Rs150 crore has been set aside for production and the remaining for promotions, advertising and other expenses.
Viacom18 Motion Pictures has joined hands with Bhansali to fund the project.
Viacom18 Motion Pictures did not respond to Mint’s query on the deal.
The deal establishes Amazon Prime Video’s stranglehold over licensed local content in India.
Earlier this month, Amazon Prime Video announced a content deal with actor Salman Khan’s home production, Salman Khan Ventures, for his upcoming films.
The five-year deal with Khan’s production firm has cost Amazon Prime Video what its executives call a “small fortune", but gives the streaming platform exclusive rights to all his upcoming films even before their television premiere.
According to an entertainment industry expert, typically, the digital rights of a Salman Khan-starrer (along with the provision of the two-month holdback period before TV release), are sold at an estimated Rs65 crore per film. The expert declined to be named.
The Amazon Prime service, which was launched in India in December last year, has been lapping up Bollywood content and has tied up rapidly with production houses such as Yash Raj Films, Dharma Productions, T-Series, Shree Venkatesh Films, Everest Entertainment, V Creations and Dream Warrior Pictures.
Through these, it has access to a library of more than 50 films, including titles such as Sultan, Kabali and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. It has also announced 18 original shows for India, making it Amazon’s largest market for original shows outside the US.
Arch rival Netflix is also strengthening its India operations and has doubled its content investment for India.
Last week it acquired the digital rights to stream S.S. Rajamouli’s war epics Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion in a deal estimated at $4 million.
Netflix also announced two more original series it will produce in India: Selection Day, a story of cricket and corruption based on a book by Booker prize-winner Aravind Adiga, and Again, a detective show written by Marisha Mukerjee.
Even as this content war heats up, media industry veteran Sameer Nair said things are only just getting started.
“This market is still at a very nascent stage. Buying big blockbuster movies is an audience magnet. Although it’s an old habit—satellite TV has done it for the last 20 years to drive viewership. Movies like these will definitely bring audiences to the platform, but they are the one-night stands while the series are what we describe as a long-standing marriage. Absolute consumption comes from good staple behaviour. The same applies to OTT (over-the-top) platforms," said Nair.
Platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video need to ensure that they keep engaging audiences in binge viewing, he added.