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Tollywood filmmakers concerned about OTT giants’ new decision

With international digital brands like Netflix and Amazon Prime reportedly planning to cut down on the intake of Telugu movies, Tollywood makers are having sleepless nights.

The two big OTT giants together earmark Rs 250 to 300 crores per year for procuring content from Tollywood. But the latest we hear is that the budget is going to be slashed since they reportedly suffered some losses because of a few Telugu films.

“It would be a worrisome situation. Star-studded films are largely dependent on funds from these brands as they reduce the burden of a producer. For instance, a big producer recovers his investment via audio, and satellite, besides Hindi dubbing rights and digital rights. So if top digital platforms cut down their intake then it would be tough for filmmakers to make big-ticket movies,” laments producer Abhishek Nama, who cites the enormous viewership of these two OTT platforms in 200-odd countries. “I hope they re-think their move,” he adds.

However, a top director on condition of anonymity says, “We should blame a few top Telugu filmmakers for this mess. With their fascination for pan-India movies, they claimed that their film would rock the world and traded their films for big sums, which later bombed. Every film cannot be an “RRR” or a “Pushpa’. The Telugu makers were cheating themselves as well as digital platforms that have woken up to reality and understood the limited reach of Telugu films. For instance, a digital platform which bought a Telugu star film for Rs 30 crore was unable to recover even Rs 6 crores, so corporates have to slow down.”

He went on to state that international brands have ‘audit teams’ in India who closely study the rise in subscriptions when a new film is added and its actual viewership besides the count of repeat audience and also noticed low footfalls for a few hyped Telugu films.

Nonetheless, this slashing is bound to affect 50-odd small and medium-budget films that are running in the industry and providing livelihood to lakhs of cine workers and technicians. “This situation is largely due to these brands chasing star films over content-driven films. They should earmark 30 to 40% of their yearly budget for medium-budget films made with Rs 8-10 crore and low-budget films made with Rs 2 to 3 crore and strike a balance. Instead of putting all eggs in one basket. A small film like “Baby’ shattered box office records by collecting over Rs 50 crores, so corporates should consider this idea,” says a producer.

Summing up the argument, producer C Kalyan says “If a big film flops, 80% of its investment is wiped out. Whereas, brands will suffer lesser and manageable losses on small-budget films because of their limited investments. Actually, corporate houses make big money in the Malayalam industry by betting on novel content, so they should apply the same formula here rather than reducing their budgets which doesn’t augur well for Tollywood,” he concludes. ( Deccan Chronicle

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