South filmmakers shorten streaming release window | Mint

South filmmakers shorten streaming release window

For Hindi films, there is a six and eight-week exclusive window for pay-per-view and online premiers, respectively. (MINT_PRINT)
For Hindi films, there is a six and eight-week exclusive window for pay-per-view and online premiers, respectively. (MINT_PRINT)

Summary

  • Trade experts say the negotiating power of multiplexes hasn’t worked with southern filmmakers who sign lucrative deals with OTT platforms to de-risk their films before release and then stick to them, even if the film finds takers at the box office

NEW DELHI : Rajinikanth’s Tamil film Jailer, which continues to draw audiences to cinemas, has already premiered on Amazon Prime Video within a month of theatrical release. Meanwhile, Chiranjeevi’s Telugu film Bhola Shankar, released in mid-August, too, will stream on Netflix this week.

Trade experts say the negotiating power of multiplexes hasn’t worked with southern filmmakers who sign lucrative deals with OTT platforms to de-risk their films before release and then stick to them, even if the film finds takers at the box office. For Hindi films, there is a six and eight-week exclusive window for pay-per-view and online premiers, respectively.

“In the north, multiplexes contribute a much higher percentage of overall box office and can afford to take a stand on these things. But in the south, single screens lead all the way. Producers, on the other hand, want to de-risk their expensive projects by sealing satellite and digital deals before the theatrical release and ensure monetization as best as they can," said a senior executive at a leading entertainment company, which also operates its own OTT platform. The practice, however, is not good for the business and will not serve producers well in the long term, the person added, since viewers will not be enthused to go to theatres to watch films if they know these will be available on home screens that soon. “It’s like creating a habit and mindset. A lot of people are seeking inspiration from international markets where films can premiere within 40-plus days on TVoD (transaction video-on-demand or pay-per-view), but those are much more mature markets where these different platforms have co-existed for long," the person added.

The Multiplex Association of India declined to comment on this stance by the southern film industry to premiere films online with a shortened window. However, a senior exhibition industry expert said as far as the southern movie industry goes, Tamil and Telugu films have followed a four-week window for a while as compared to Malayalam films that premiere after six to eight weeks only. “There are attempts to address this with southern filmmakers, but it hasn’t happened yet," the person added.

Satwik Lele, chief operating officer at Mukta A2 Cinemas, said this trend (films like Jailer releasing on OTT despite good box office and less than a month-long window) is absolutely subjective with the understanding they have with the exhibitor, especially in their home state.

“Every local industry and producer there have their own terms and conditions or understanding with the exhibitors based on which these decisions are made," Lele added.

Independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said multiplexes have only managed to crack down on Hindi films so far, ensuring an eight-week window. Plus, on the producer front, very few films actually manage to click at the box office. “In case a movie doesn’t, deals become harder to strike post-release, and valuation comes down substantially, that is, if the film finds buyers at all," Pillai sai

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