Has OTT Hijacked The Business Of Cinema Halls?
Change is the law of nature, and man has to accept it though, sweet or bitter! The recent lockdown due to the deadly Corona Virus pandemic has brought several changes! People working in elite offices, after being jobless, due to lockdown; have been forced to do odd jobs to make a living. As far as Indian cinema is concerned, the lockdown has broken the backbone of the Indian film industry. Despite a hoard of films ready for release, they are lying abandoned in film cans due to cinema halls shut for the past seven months! Though from October 15, 2020, the government has given a signal for cinema halls to operate with 50% occupancy, the filmmakers are hesitant to release their films, fearing losses.
In the absence of the cinema halls, however, the latest technology OTT (Over-The-Top) streaming media service has hijacked the business of cinema halls. The OTT facilitates direct watching the film in the comfort of your drawing room! No tension of visiting multiplexes, standing in the long queue to purchase cinema tickets, and the annoyance of traffic jams while returning home. What’s more, the viewer has the liberty to watch the film at any time as per his ease. Besides, the viewer can fast forward a song or rewind and enjoy a scene of his delight. The viewer can even pause the film and continue watching the movie at a later time as per his convenience.
With such relief, viewers are now looking for more films on the OTT. Interestingly, even the film industry has responded positively. According to Ronnie Lahiri, the producer of Amitabh Bachchan‘s Gulabo Sitabo, one of the first big films to be premiered on Amazon Prime, is delighted at the OTT technology.
Lauding the latest innovation OTT, he said, “The priority of a producer is a guaranteed amount which is good enough to make a second film. In the case of a theater release, there is always an ambiguity of a recovery, forget profit. History is proof that the success rate of films is poor. Even top star cast films do not guarantee success, for example, Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan staring Thugs of Hindostan, despite superstar and big banner, failed at the box-office!” He added, “In contrast, the producers are happy with an OTT release because they get an ample amount which otherwise was uncertain in a theatre release. Further, in today’s period, when the government has capped a 50% audience, the risk of recovery is doubled. Hence the film industry has decided to support the OTT. Several big budgets films are ready for release on OTT like Akshay Kumar’s Laxmi Bomb‘, Ajay Devgn, Sonakshi Sinha and Sanjay Dutt staring Bhuj, Sanjay Dutt, Alia Bhatt, Aditya Roy Kapur, and Pooja Bhatt’s Sadak 2, Abhishek Bachchan in The Big Bull, Vidyut Jammwal in Khuda Haafiz and Kunal Khemu and Rasika Dugal in Lootcase.
So, the big question is – Has OTT hijacked the business of cinema halls? Well, frankly speaking, a big NO! It is just the change nature of law! Just as dry leaves fall from the trees and new leaves take their place, similarly, with changing trends and innovations, the new technology takes over the past.
Indian Film Industry (IFH) in a series of articles will cover how changing trends have threatened the film industry in the past 100 years, and cinema has survived!