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Hiren Gada, chief executive officer, Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd.
Hiren Gada, chief executive officer, Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd.

Shemaroo launches pay-per-movie service

  • ShemarooMe will not only bring films to audiences on Fridays, but will also allow producers to take their films to theatres or other subscription-driven platforms once cinemas resume

NEW DELHI: Media and entertainment company Shemaroo will launch a pay-per-movie service, a rare strategy at a time when most Indian video streaming platforms are acquiring films for direct-to-digital releases offered as part of their subscription packages.

The films can be watched on ShemarooMe Box Office and the tickets can be booked at the company’s own VoD platform ShemarooMe, its website as well as on online ticketing site BookMyShow. Priced at 100, each film will be available for multiple viewings over a period of three days since the transaction is made.

“The idea is to provide a meeting platform for consumers starved of content and producers who have been denied a distribution platform since the covid-19 pandemic struck," Hiren Gada, chief executive officer, Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd said.

With theatres shut for over four months now, Gada said, several films had huge capital stuck as cinemas are the first step of monetisation and only then can movies go to satellite and digital platforms.

ShemarooMe, that is trying to replicate the theatrical model of release as much as possible, will not only bring films to audiences on Fridays, but will also allow producers to take their films to theatres or other subscription-driven platforms once cinemas resume operations.

“We want the ecosystem to come out of the logjam it is currently in," Gada said.

Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer, cinemas, BookMyShow, said the company is glad to partner ShemarooMe to bring cinematic entertainment to the comfort and safety of audiences' homes.

To be sure, these are small-budget films that have either toured the festival circuit or not seen a release anywhere else. The current line-up includes crime thriller My Client’s Wife, which will be the first offering on 31 July, besides Indo-UK production Scotland, the Hindi version of Sharman Joshi-starrer Least of These, and action-thriller Hidden Strike.

One has to be practical, Gada added, to see that it will be too risky to bring big-ticket films to such platforms before they gain traction. The company will evaluate the buzz and popularity of a film over a period of time to see how long it can stay on the service but typically, Gada said, it could be anywhere between two and eight weeks, just how it works in movie theatres. There will be a new film each Friday.

YouTube offers films that can be rented for a 24 to 48-hour period and depending on the film, one has 30 days to start the access period.

Other platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime etc are yet to dabble in the pay-per-view model that is hugely popular in the US. In India, these platforms have acquired high-profile titles such as Laxmmi Bomb, Gulabo Sitabo Sitabo and Gunjan Saxena-The Kargil Girl, among others, for a direct-to-digital release during covid, with an eye on expanding their overall user base. But that has its share of disadvantages.

"The popularity of a film could be assessed if it were available on a pay-per-view basis, like in the US. By making it part of the platform’s overall subscription package, you’re entering a world of grey where there is no true measurement of an isolated film," a senior executive at a leading streaming platform said on condition of anonymity. The person added that it was even more disconcerting that streaming platforms provide no viewership numbers, making it difficult to assess performance.

Shemaroo, however, is looking to change that.

"This is not about adding a new film to the subscription service that gets subsumed in it but rather, a new window that helps subsequent windows and takes the overall film business forward and allows a new kind of habit to be created," Gada said, adding that the company will be transparent in providing information to producers on ticket sales of their films.

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