Indian movie theater owners threaten 'retributive measures' as filmmakers bypass to OTT

Movie operators have long been feeling the pressures of OTT services. Coupled with the global lockdowns across the world, movie theatres in India are taking to social to make their displeasures known.

PVR Pictures, one of the biggest movie theatre chains in India said on Friday that it is “disappointed with some of [its] producers deciding to go straight to streaming platforms”. The films is question titled "Gulabo Sitabo" and "Shakuntala Devi", both set to release on  Amazon Prime Video.

CEO of  PVR Pictures, Kamal Gianchandani added that while this is not the first time films are being premiered on streaming platforms, and cinemas have regularly faced competition from emerging platforms, he is confident that post COVID-19, there will be enough pent-up demand from movie goers.

Meanwhile, another movie house Inox in India also made its “ extreme displeasure and disappointment” known for “skipping the theatrical run”. It said the decision of the production house to deviate from “the globally prevalent content windowing practice is alarming and disconcerting” and cinemas and content creators have always had mutually beneficial partnerships where one’s action provided fillip to another’s revenue.

“In these troubled times, it is disturbing to see one of the partners not interested in continuing the mutually beneficial relationship, especially when the need of the hour is to stand shoulder to shoulder […]Such acts, though isolated, vitiate the atmosphere of mutual partnership and paint these content producers as fair weathered friends rather than all-weather life-long partners.”

The theater also said it reserves all rights, “including taking retributive measures” in dealing with “such fair weathered friends”.

 

In the past, streaming services such as Amazon have traditionally inked deals with Indian studios for digital distribution rights, and mainstream Bollywood movies have prioritized box office cinemas and theatres. But with the lockdown in India now being extended until 31 May 2020, and the ripple effect of social distancing continuing presumably even longer, it could be a turn in tide for these OTT services.

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