The Warner Bros studio last year shook film industries across the globe when it announced the simultaneous release of its 2021 slate, including ventures like Matrix 4, Dune and Suicide Squad, to release in theatres and on streaming platform HBO Max on the same day.
Following in the Hollywood studio's footsteps, Salman Khan Films is releasing its upcoming venture Radhe simultaneously in theatres worldwide, adhering to the COVID-19 protocol issued by the government, and on ZEE5 with ZEE’s pay-per-view service ZEEPlex and also on all leading DTH operators, i.e., Dish, D2H, Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV.
The Salman Khan-starrer is the first film in India to see a simultaneous release in theatres and on over-the-top (OTT) platform on the same day. It is slated to release on Eid holiday on May 13.
While a Salman Khan Films' spokesperson said that they will support the theatre owners by releasing the film in as many theatres as they can, keeping in line with the rules and protocols laid down by the government, it looks like not many theatres will benefit from this release.
"With cinemas being shut in many states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi and Chhattisgarh, it is highly unlikely that theatres will see any benefit of this. Further, this film will hit only single screens and not multiplexes as they haven’t agreed for this simultaneous release. For multiplexes, this is just like another film going on OTT," said analyst Karan Taurani, Vice-President, Elara Capital.
Limited theatrical release may spell bad news for Radhe as big-budget ventures mint strong revenues at the box office.
Previous Salman Khan ventures including Tiger Zinda Hai and Sultan have grossed Rs 339 crore and Rs 300 crore alone from theatrical revenues.
In addition to restricted theatrical revenues, another challenge is less traction for the pay-per-view model in India.
"TVOD (transactional video on demand) as a model has not picked up well in global markets too with Disney’s Mulan and other large films. Hence, this model is still too nascent for a market like India and one cannot expect any big positive surprises," said Taurani.
The pay per view model may not have picked up in India but film studios and producers have limited options with theatres once again shutting shop due to the coronavirus-led lockdown.
“The ongoing pandemic forced us to innovate. While we all love to catch the latest movies at the nearest theatres, we realised we’d be doing a disservice to Salman’s fans nationwide if we aren’t able to release theatrically in all Indian states. We sensed the need for a pay-per-view solution along with theatres, which gives the consumers flexibility and convenience of viewing the film. We are looking to release the film in over 40 countries including theatrical release in major overseas markets,” said Shariq Patel, CBO, Zee Studios.