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Films land up on OTT with shortened window post theatrical release

Reiterating that the pandemic has brought radical changes to the window between theatrical and digital premiere, recently released films are fast making their way to streaming platforms. Horror comedy Roohi is available on Netflix less than a month since its release while Telugu comedy drama Jathi Ratnalu has been picked up by Amazon Prime Video. Beating all of them, Kannada action drama Yuvarathnaa has debuted on Amazon eight days after theatrical release.

To be sure, it has been known for a while that Bollywood is not likely to continue with the eight-week window between theatrical and digital premieres even when things are back to normal. Instead, it may opt for a window of three-four weeks for online streaming.

The pros and cons of a possible shift are being fiercely debated by stakeholders in India and abroad, with streaming platforms seeking early digital releases and cinema chains resisting the move.

Trade experts say while it may be okay for a film featuring a big star to expect an extended run in cinemas and debut on streaming platforms later, there is no logic in holding small producers back—more so, as the longer they wait, the movie’s value diminishes more. Add to this the fact that most small, non-star vehicles don’t even get proper shows and timings.

To be sure, altering the release window will not be good news for exhibitors, as consumers may be in two minds about going to cinemas if the movie is slated for streaming within a couple of weeks. In the past, exhibitors have opposed any such move, so it will be interesting to see how they react to the change.

In fact, shows of many Bollywood titles, such as 1921 and Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana, were cancelled by multiplexes when the producers negotiated OTT deals within days of the theatrical releases. Live Mint

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