Once Theatres Reopen, OTT Platforms Would Struggle for Survival: Tollywood Exhibitors

 - Sakshi Post

Sarah Justin 

OTT Players luring filmmakers with fancy offers for digital release

Exhibitors ask producers not to sell movies to OTTs in desperation

The survival of OTTs would become difficult once theatres are back to form

OTT can never match theatre experience

Cinema theatres are here to stay

Theatres have always adapted to technology and given best viewer experience to movie buffs

Over the past year, the number of movies releasing on OTT has increased. Most of the filmmakers are opting for the hybrid culture when it comes to digital release of their movies. Reports are doing the rounds that Tollywood actor Daggubati Venkatesh's Narappa, Nithiin's Maestro and a few other Telugu films are gearing up for OTT release. 

As news of this got out, the exhibitors of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh held a press meet at the Film Chamber Commerce office in Hyderabad. The exhibitors requested the makers not to release their films on OTT. They urged Tollywood filmmakers to wait until October 31 for situation to return to normalcy. If the situation doesn't come under control, then the producers could opt to release their films on the OTT platform. In a recently held press meet, one of the exhibitors said that by the first week of August, everything will fall into place. now, they are requesting producers not to sell their films to OTT players. If they release the movie without paying heed to our pleas, then we would take a call on how to deal with them, one of the exibitors said. They appealed to all the producers to keep a window of six weeks for big films and three weeks for small films before they hit the OTT platforms.

Another exhibitor also raised the same issue and appealed to all the producers to wait until October 31. He cited the example of Salman Khan's Radhe. Most of the people have watched this film in the confines of their home. However, there was no good talk about the movie post release. If people would have watched the same film in theatres, the experience would have been different. You may not get the theatre like sound system at home. If we watch films on OTT, it won't be the same experience we get in theatres. We might get distracted by something or the other. Now, the situation is bad. However, cinema theatres will always be alive.

The other exhibitors elaborated on how much they were affected by the pandemic. We are not against OTT, and we can see that there is a technological upgrade and we are not behind. We are doing out best to adapt. Theatre experience has always been in tune with the times. There are nearly 1800 theatres across the two Telugu speaking states. Producers will get money from all the theatres. But now, due to the current situation, producers are getting impatient due to the pandemic. We are asking producers not to get hassled and sell their films to OTTs in desperation. We are hoping and requesting producers to continue the same relationship with us.

Another leading exhibitor stated that pandemic took a toll on us, but theatre owners are affected more than anyone else. Some OTT makers are tempting producers with fancy offers because it's a business tactic for them. If movies don't release in theatres, there will be no promotions. If there are no releases, then 2000 theatres will have to shut down. We are requesting the producers to wait for some time, instead of opting for OTT release.

Another top exhibitor said, OTT is having an adverse impact on theatres and affecting their businesses. If producers go against us and release their films on OTT, then, we don't mind getting OTT banned. The business may not boom overnight, but it will pick up soon. When theatres open up and start functioning like before and the cash registers start ringing, OTT's survival will be a challenge. The exhibitors requested all the Telugu filmmakers to stall their film releases on OTT.

We exhibitors stand united to make an appeal to filmmakers with the slogan save cinemas and save theatres. 

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