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Business News/ Industry / Media/  Filmmakers split digital streaming rights to maximise revenue
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Filmmakers split digital streaming rights to maximise revenue

Film trade experts said the new trend has emerged to de-risk high-scale projects and enable better recovery for films with high investments especially since any one platform is unlikely to be able to afford prices high enough to make it viable for the producers

SS Rajamouli’s Telugu period action drama RRR will be available on Netflix in Hindi as well as on ZEE5 in the southern languages.Premium
SS Rajamouli’s Telugu period action drama RRR will be available on Netflix in Hindi as well as on ZEE5 in the southern languages.

NEW DELHI : Producers of big-budget, multilingual films lined up for theatrical releases are selling the digital streaming rights across over-the-top platforms to recoup the investments faster.

For instance, Telugu period action drama RRR, directed by S.S. Rajamouli, will be available on Netflix in Hindi and on ZEE5 in south Indian languages, while sports drama ‘83’ will stream on both Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar.

Film trade experts said the new trend will allow producers to de-risk high-scale projects and allow better recovery of investments, more so, as single platforms are unlikely to offer fees high enough to compensate the producers. Besides, platforms are also looking to focus on specific languages.

“There are pricing issues with big-ticket movies and this is resulting in OTT platforms compromising on the exclusive rights," said Yusuf Shaikh, business head, feature films, at production and distribution house Percept Pictures.

OTT platforms are willing to buy language-specific rights as high-budget movies are once-in-a-year kind of a phenomena and will not be shown on satellite television too soon, said Shaikh.

For instance, RRR, with a budget of 500 crore, is estimated to have made over 300 crore from the sale of satellite and digital rights, while ’83 despite a below-par performance at the box office, is likely to recoup 50 crore and 30 crore from Disney+Hotstar and Netflix, respectively. This will help recover the film’s production cost of 240 crore and the 20 crore spent on advertising and publicity, according to trade website Box Office India.

In September, Thalaivii, starring Kangana Ranaut released in cinemas amid covid-led curbs. The streaming rights of the film, made at a cost of 40-45 crore, was subsequently sold to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video across languages for 55 crore, with a two-week window for the premiere of the Hindi version on Netflix.

While Disney+ Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video did not respond to queries, Netflix declined to comment.

The difference between the acquisition rates of a film that premieres directly on a digital platform and the one streamed after theatrical release is huge, Karan Taurani, senior vice-president, Elara Capital, said.

Splitting rights also allows producers to recover the costs and gives them the confidence to spend more on big projects.

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Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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Published: 04 Mar 2022, 02:28 PM IST
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