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Salman Khan’s Radhe makes digital debut; dull Eid for theatres

While it will be a washout Eid for theatres that remain shut owing to state-imposed lockdowns, even Zee has little reason to cheer the digital debut of the film.Premium
While it will be a washout Eid for theatres that remain shut owing to state-imposed lockdowns, even Zee has little reason to cheer the digital debut of the film.

Dealing a blow to cinemas and distributors, Salman Khan’s Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai will debut on pay-per-view service ZeePlex and streaming platform ZEE5—without any signs of the latter recouping the 200 crore it paid to acquire the film

NEW DELHI : Dealing a blow to cinemas and distributors, Salman Khan’s Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai will debut on pay-per-view service ZeePlex and streaming platform ZEE5—without any signs of the latter recouping the 200 crore it paid to acquire the film.

Radhe, co-produced by Salman Khan Films, sold all distribution, satellite TV and digital rights to Zee this January in a deal that included some older Khan movies.

While it will be a washout Eid for theatres which remain shut owing to localized lockdowns, even Zee has little reason to cheer the digital debut of the film. The film was supposed to release on Eid 2020 but that, too, was a washout owing to the national lockdown.

“It’s definitely a very dull Eid that’s completely missing the noise that a Salman Khan film usually brings," Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema said. Traditionally, Eid could net as much as 50 crore on opening day.

Up until Wednesday, BookMyShow was not taking any bookings for Radhe anywhere as multiplexes had earlier decided to boycott the film because of the move to release it online.

Besides, it wasn’t clear if the multiplexes would open. A film trade expert requesting anonymity said that as of Wednesday, fewer than 10 cinemas across India had committed to playing the film.

Khan’s earlier Eid releases Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan made more than 300 crore each at the box office.

Yet, Zee is confident about what it calls a high-impact blockbuster. Part of the enthusiasm stems from the opening up of overseas markets such as the US, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates which have been starved of Bollywood fare for over a year and where Khan’s film will have a wide release.

Plus, Zee owns the satellite TV and digital streaming rights for the next few years, which can be exploited in the long run.

“While we want to ensure the film reaches theatres wherever possible, we’re democratizing access for people to also watch it comfortably at home in a safe environment without having to set a time," Manish Kalra, chief business officer, ZEE5 India said.

The film will be available for a one-time view for 249 on ZeePlex from 13 May. Existing ZEE5 subscribers can also watch the film by paying an extra 249.

The company also introduced a special “Radhe Combo Offer", giving viewers the opportunity to watch Radhe, along with a one-year subscription to ZEE5, for 499.

Kalra said the pay-per-view model hadn’t undergone a fair test in India so far and Radhe would be the first mainstream film to deliver and prove the strategy is here to co-exist with the theatres.

“About 65-70% of our content consumption happens on big television screens," Kalra said, referring to the need for big-ticket properties to engage family audiences.

Shariq Patel, chief business officer, Zee Studios, said, “Given the current situation, we believe that it is the right time to provide greater width to films, allowing people to choose what they want to see."

He said while concept films for niche audiences may do well on pay-per-view platforms, a mass-market film such as Radhe, for which they have opted a hybrid release, could notch up very high numbers.

“Hence, we are looking at developing an environment where, along with the theatre, such options can co-exist. The concept of subscriptions was also once new, but it has picked up. And there’s no time better than now to see how TVoD (transaction video on demand) works its way through with the viewers," Patel added.

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