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Should theatre owners be worried about OTT platforms?

Saturday, June 20, 2020 • Tamil Comments

Watching movies in theatres, having the first day first show experiences of much anticipated movies and movies of their favorite stars and rejoicing, making every movie release a festive atmosphere in theatres has been a part and parcel of our culture. With theatres being the temples of movie buffs, and new movies releasing every week providing the ultimate entertainment, the times are changing, and have been impacting this.

Of late, OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon prime, Zee 5, Hotstar etc have been gaining prominence and have been providing lots of unique content from various languages, on a single monthly/ quarterly or annual payment/ subscription basis. In recent times, theatre owners had conflicts with producers of several movies, as they released their movies on streaming platforms even as they were running successfully in theatres, thereby forcing theatres to end their run.

While this could be taken care of with discussions and terms, there has been a new issue in the past few months, as the Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a lockdown and indefinite closure of theatres. The delay in reopening of theatres, the huge losses, interests to be paid and the budgetary concerns have forced producers to opt for a direct OTT premiere skipping theatrical releases.

Though movies like Sila Nerangalil by Priyadarshan released directly on Netflix earlier, the lockdown has witnessed releases of some of the anticipated movies involving biggest stars of Kollywood and this had come across as a threat to theatres which feared that it'll create a trend of all mainstream big movies directly releasing on OTT platforms without having a theatrical release.

However, post the release of two Kollywood movies on OTT platforms during the lockdown, theatre owners who were initially opposing the move are reportedly happy with the negative reviews garnered by them and have felt relieved that these movies didn't hit theatres and affected their income. It has been said that theatre owners have been happy and sharing news about the negative responses to these OTT release movies in WhatsApp groups. While people are usually annoyed by the high parking costs and snacks/ booking costs, the responses they have given to OTT releases have been lukewarm and they're inclined more on watching movies only in theatres, which has removed the fear of theatre owners on OTT platforms, making them relieved.

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