Why are film producers and theaters at loggerheads?
The film business, much like the entire world right now, is a hullabaloo of uncertainty and anxiety. But lately, the pandemic has started to test everyone's patience. In this unprecedented scenario, the production and the exhibition sectors of the entertainment world are not just disagreeing but are fighting it out in the open. But what led to this? Here, we discuss.
Closure of theaters bring huge losses for both parties
With indefinite closure of theaters across the country, both theater chains as well as movie producers are looking at insurmountable losses. And while multiplex/theater companies cannot do much about it, the producers have one viable option in their kitty: to release their films directly on a digital platform. However, as can be predicted, theater owners are not taking it in good spirits.
Major films are landing directly on OTT
The row between the two parties commenced after it became known that some of the most anticipated movies of the year, including Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer Gulabo Sitabo and Vidya Balan's Shakuntala Devi, will skip a theatrical run and release directly on Amazon Prime.
Theater chains expressed their 'disappointment'
Soon after the announcement was made, two of the biggest theater chains in India, PVR and INOX expressed their disapproval. "We are disappointed with Gulabo Sitabo's decision to go straight to a streaming platform," PVR's CEO said. Meanwhile, INOX termed the move as "alarming and disconcerting". The company went ahead to warn that it could take "retributive measures" against producers who are going digital.
Here is the statement by INOX
Producers Guild said digital release of movies is inevitable
In its response, the Producers Guild of India said that "it is disappointing to see abrasive and unconstructive messaging from some of our colleagues in the exhibition sector," adding that digital release of movies is the need of the hour. The Guild noted that it is important for all members of the movie supply chain to understand each other's predicament.
Here is the Guild's statement
'Gulabo Sitabo' producer believes that one must adapt
Meanwhile, Ronnie Lahiri, co-producer of Gulabo Sitabo opined that one has to adapt according to the changing times. 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... Instead of waiting for the situation to get better, you tackle it with other alternatives."
Director/producer Kunal Kohli also hit back at exhibitors
This is a precedent, said film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi
"Of course a film is a producer's baby so they have the right to release whatever way they want to, but this is a precedent, whose impact is going to be negative in the exhibition sector," leading film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi noted.
Perhaps, digital is now the only choice for small/medium films
While exhibitors are tensed that digital release may become the new normal, it should be understood that for some producers, it is the only way to survive in the industry at such an uncertain stage. As and when cinemas re-open, major movies will fight for a release date, and smaller to medium films will suffer. Somehow, the pandemic is only fast-tracking what was imminent.