These 7 Movies Will Ditch Theaters & Release On Amazon Prime; Inox Is Not Happy!
Amazon has secured rights to premiere 7 Indian movies directly on its Prime Video on-demand streaming service that were initially scheduled for a theatrical release.
This move has caused the multiplex chain, Inox Leisure Limited and PVR to express ‘extreme displeasure’ and ‘disappointment.’ It called the decision to be alarming and disconcerting.
Read to find out more…
Amazon Prime Snatches Business of Theatre Chains in India!
The move to release movies on over-the-top media services (OTT) platforms comes as India maintains a nationwide lockdown which has left more than 9,500 theaters and other public places shut.
The company said on Friday that it will release these movies, which include ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ starring Indian legend Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana, and ‘Shakuntala Devi’ featuring Vidya Balan as lead, over the next 3 months starting with May.
The company said that the Prime Video subscribers won’t have to pay an additional fee to access these 7 movies, which span 5 Indian languages.
Other ‘highly anticipated’ titles are Tamil drama ‘Ponmagal Vandhal’, ‘Penguin’ (Tamil and Telugu), ‘Law’ (Kannada), ‘French Biryani’ (Kannada), and ‘Sufiyum Sujatayum’ (Malayalam).
In the last one and a half year, the e-commerce giant has struck deals with movie studios to narrow the window for a movie’s theatrical release to its debut on a streaming service for a few weeks, down from 2-3 months in India.
Amazon provides Prime Video at a Rs 999-a-year Prime subscription plan in India, said it is providing these movies a platform that reaches 4,000 towns and cities in more than 200 countries and territories. The company has not disclosed how many Prime Video subscribers it has amassed in India, or elsewhere.
Disney’s Hotstar, Netflix, Zee5, Alt Balaji among others are the company’s main rivals in India.
Directors Finding Alternatives As the Theatres Remain Shut!
Gaurav Gandhi, Director and Country General Manager of Amazon Prime Video India, said in a statement, “Indian audiences have been eagerly awaiting the release of these 7 highly anticipated films and we are delighted that Amazon Prime Video will now be premiering these movies for our customers – who can enjoy watching these from the safety and comfort of their homes and on a screen of their choice.”
It appears that Amazon hasn’t had to spend a ton to acquire rights for these titles. In an interview with Huffington Post India, Ronnie Lahiri, co-producer of ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ said ‘it wasn’t like we got insane money from Amazon’ though he called the deal a ‘win-win’.
He said, “We’re facing a once-in-a-lifetime phenomena, not seen since World War 2. These are the times when things change. Initially, people have apprehensions but one has to adapt. That’s how human civilisations have prospered. The minute we stop adapting, we’re done. Instead of waiting for the situation to get better, you tackle it with other alternatives.”
Inox and PVR Upset!
PVR and INOX, two large theater chains in India that together run about 1,500 screens in the country, said they were alarmed and concerned by the move.
INOX said in a statement, “Such acts, though isolated, vitiate the atmosphere of mutual partnership and paint these content producers as fair-weather friends rather than all-weather life-long partners. Needless to say, INOX will be constrained to examine its options, and reserves all rights, including taking retributive measures, in dealing with such fair-weather friends.”
The multiplex chain in a statement on twitter said, “INOX would like to express extreme displeasure and disappointment on an announcement made by a production house today, to release their movie directly on an OTT platform by skipping the theatrical window run.”
Amazon, which began selling movie tickets in India last year, has been attempting to challenge, in INOX’s words, ‘age old, windowing-pattern’.
Last month, AMC Theaters said it will no longer screen films made by Universal Pictures, which released ‘Trolls World Tour’ directly to streaming. Amazon is reportedly in talks to buy AMC theater chain.
Speaking to ETCFO’s Vartika Rawat, Inox Chief Financial Officer Kailash Gupta said, “Right now there is no revenue but only costs for the business. One month closure of INOX Leisure would mean the cost can be around Rs 30-35 cr. We are not even talking about profitability, but the concern is on liquidity crunch.”
Inox said, “it is disturbing to see some partners not interested in continuing to the mutually beneficial relationship, especially when the need of the hour is to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, as a result it will now be constrained to examine its options, and reserves all rights, including taking retributive measures, in dealing with such fair-weather friends”.
Concluding, the multiplex urged all content creators not to skip the theatrical run, and stay with the age old and established windowing pattern, which is in the best interests of all stakeholders in the value chain.
As the lockdown stretches and with the possibility of filmmakers now going directly to OTT platforms and skipping theatrical runs to release their films the future seems rather harsh for the multiplex chains.