Drive’s release may not be a game-changer with movies across genres occasionally passing up on theatrical distribution and going to premium streaming platforms
Action is one genre that many exhibitors believe is best suited for the big screen. Yet, Dharma Productions decided to release its action drama Drive on Netflix.
Coming on the alternate screen on November 1, Jacqueline Fernandez and Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer Drive puts us in doubt whether the action drama’s release on an over-the-top (OTT) platform will be a game changer and a threat to cinema screens.
“I don’t think it is revolutionary or it will open the gates for theatrical content to flow on OTT platforms,” said Preetham Daniel, Senior Vice President, Asia, Harkness Screens.
He added that when content belonging to the action genre is put on OTT, it is as good as the home theatre a consumer has. So, it would be more watching and less enjoying.
“A movie like Drive would have been better on a theatrical platform. Theatre brings the technology designed to deliver a content. Binge watching type of content works well on OTT but if I want to enjoy a movie, then this (OTT) is not the platform,” he further said.
In addition, Sunder Aaron, Co-Founder and MD, Q India and Co-Founder and Principal of Locomotive Global Inc, doesn’t think this (Drive’s release on Netflix) is a threat for cinemas.
“Action films, especially, will always have a healthy home in the movie theaters, and there is certainly no shortage of action movies vying for release. In fact, theatrical releases are becoming increasingly expensive and with more and more films being output, the cinema owners’ appetites has shortened for keeping a movie in its theaters that isn’t performing well," he said.
"Premium OTT is a great hedge for film producers against the challenges of releasing and promoting a film in India, however, I don’t think we will see a shortage of action films showing up in the box office any time soon,” he added.
He also doesn’t see Drive’s release as a game-changer because he thinks the game has already changed, with movies across genres occasionally passing up on a theatrical distribution and going to premium streaming platforms.
“When it comes to action, we have already seen action films and series released directly on OTT, such as Bright, Jack Ryan,” he said.
But does this mean that OTTs are becoming first preference of filmmakers and studios?
Not really. This is because Daniel believes that theatrical release is what every studio wants. “How long has OTT been in existence? It has been there for a long time, right? And if the studios believed in OTT being the way to deliver content it would have happened overnight,” he said.
“Take the example of an IMAX. There is clear definition of what kind of content goes on to an IMAX. The content has to take you to a place that you can never be. There is clear definition of what kind of content will be on that screen. But here (ott) there is no clear definition, it is whatever the commercial model is dictating,” said Daniel.
Yes, commerce is a big part of the decision regarding a film’s release.
And this is because along with production cost, print and advertising (P&A) are included in the budget which comes at a big cost.
So, if Drive were to see a theatrical release in about 1,000 screens, the makers would have to shell out over and above Rs 35 to Rs 40 crore that was spent on making the film. This would mean over Rs 10 crore more for P&A. And in this scenario one needs to be sure of the product.
“A straight to OTT release proves advantageous when the projected theatrical release and marketing costs threaten to be far greater than the projected potential audience for the film. In Hollywood, there have been many instances in which rather than taking a big loss with an ill-timed or costly theatrical release, a studio has chosen to cut their losses and perhaps make a better profit by releasing on an OTT platform instead,” explained Aaron.He added that “a producer with the right leverage can better be sure they are getting a significant premium to forego a theatrical release when they head straight to the small screen. So, in that way it can be beneficial as an alternate release strategy.”LIVE NOW... Video series on How to Double Your Monthly Income... where Rahul Shah, Ex-Swiss Investment Banker and one of India's leading experts on wealth building, reveals his secret strategies for the first time ever. Register here to watch it for FREE.