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American streaming service Prime Video has acquired the streaming rights to four upcoming movies from homegrown studio Yash Raj Films which will be available on the platform within four weeks of release in theatres.

These include heist comedy Bunty Aur Babli 2 starring Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Sharvari slated to arrive in cinemas on 19 November; historical action film Prithviraj starring Akshay Kumar, Sanjay Dutt, Manushi Chhillar and Sonu Sood scheduled for 21 January, Ranveer Singh’s family entertainer Jayeshbhai Jordaar for 25 February and Ranbir Kapoor, Vaani Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt’s action film Shamshera for 18 March. Although the company did not divulge the size of the deal for these four titles, film trade experts said the rights may have been acquired at an estimated 200 crore in a bulk deal and films may remain exclusive to Amazon for about 7-11 years.

The move further strengthens the long-standing partnership between Prime Video and Yash Raj Films, with the former already hosting YRF titles such as Darr, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Silsila, Chandni, Dil To Pagal Hai, Thugs of Hindostan, War, Mardaani, and others.

“At Prime Video, we are intently focused on bringing the biggest and the best entertainment to our customers and this partnership with Yash Raj Films is the perfect demonstration of that commitment," Gaurav Gandhi, country head, Prime Video India said in a statement.

“Over the last four years, we have been consistently bringing blockbuster movies to entertain audiences from the comfort of their homes and on a screen of their choice. The global digital premieres, four weeks after theatrical release, will not only delight our Prime Members, but will also help significantly increase the reach and viewing base for these highly anticipated films – in India and around the world," Gandhi added.

To be sure, YRF has remained one of the few film studios to have stuck to its plans of theatrical release and not opted for direct-to-digital premiere during months of covid-induced lockdown. However, the deal allows Prime Video to stream the films within four weeks' of release in theatres. The norm earlier, before the pandemic hit, was between six and eight weeks.

Theatre owners, especially the country's top multiplexes have consistently reiterated the need for longer windows for cinema to retain its position as the primary film-viewing medium. Before the pandemic, there have been instances of shows of films like Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana and 1921 getting cancelled by multiplexes because they refused to adhere to the longer window mandate.

Akshaye Widhani, senior vice-president, Yash Raj Films, said that in Prime Video the company has found a partner that not only shares its vision of offering engaging cinematic experiences, but also provides global distribution to stories from the Indian entertainment ecosystem. “We are excited to ink this exclusive streaming deal with Prime Video, which will enable our upcoming titles to travel beyond geographies and add further value to Prime Video’s content library," he added.

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