The second wave of Bollywood film releases, including big-star ventures, is about to hit over the top (OTT) platforms as producers remain unsure about a theatrical release with cinemas running at 50 percent capacity.
According to industry insiders, John Abraham's Mumbai Saga has been sold to Amazon Prime Video for around Rs 65 crore. The film’s makers, however, have not confirmed the news yet.
Next is Parineeti Chopra's Girl on The Train, which will be released on Netflix. Other films that are in talks with OTT platforms for direct digital release include Kartik Aaryan's Dhamaka, and Sanya Malhotra's Pagglait.
While coronavirus-induced restrictions on audience are a big factor, limited traction in theatres for films like Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari and Indoo Ki Jawani will also be weighing on producers’ mind. Suraj Pe did a business of Rs three crore and Indoo Ki Jawani could only manage Rs one crore.
So far, amid big star ventures, only Salman Khan's Radhe is officially slotted for Eid holiday. Other offerings like Akshay Kumar's Sooryavanshi and Ranveer Singh's 83 still don’t have a release date.
It was Ayushmann Khurrana's Gulabo Sitabo that started the trend of direct to digital releases during the lockdown.
As many as 24 Hindi films have released on OTT in the last 10 months.
Film trade experts think that small and medium budget films may continue to release on OTTs directly, as producers who may not have a capital holding capacity are likely to go to video-streaming platforms.
But Karan Taurani, Vice-President, Elara Capital, said movies going to OTTs was not a threat to cinemas as it was a temporary shift.
OTT’s paying hefty premiums for small and medium wouldn’t be sustainable for a long time.
OTTs paid 80 percent higher premiums to small and medium-size films and 120 percent higher premiums for bigger ventures during COVID-19 lockdown as compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Experts think that as shoots have resumed, OTTs will focus on web series.
"It’s only a matter of one large Hindi film coming to cinemas and doing as well as (south film) Master,
which in turn will persuade producers to release their films," Taurani said.