The announcement of the global premiere of Shoojit Sircar’s quirky drama Gulabo Sitabo on Amazon Prime video was announced recently. This indicated that filmmakers are looking to release movies on OTT platforms as restrictions on theatres and malls get extended. Now according to Ajay Bijli, Chairman and Managing Director of PVR, the cinema halls are likely to reopen soon.
The shutdown of the cinemas is causing a huge financial loss to the entertainment industry. Though biggies like Sooryavanshi and 83’ are ready for release, they can’t release as just like other non-essential businesses, the movie theatres will have to remain closed too. Now the chairman and managing director of PVR, Ajay Bijli has addressed this situation.
In a recent interview with CNBC-TV18, Ajay Bijli said – “After this new lockdown 4.0, there is still no visibility of when cinemas will open but we had always taken enough forecasts in our assessments that we would open 1st July onward. I got some indication that malls may open from June 15, but malls have a very strong inter-dependence on cinemas as well because cinemas do generate footfalls. So, I think about two weeks or a maximum of three weeks after the malls opening, we should open. A lot of films have bunched up together which are ready and even post production is over, so I do believe a lot of those movies will start probably releasing from July 15 onwards. They may have some trial period where even we need to get our act together; get the cleanliness going; train the staff and all that for the new way to go about until the vaccine comes and people’s fears come down. So I’m looking at maximum by mid-August for things to really pick up.
Ajay Bijli further said, “I feel the situation will be completely different once the cinemas open up because it just doesn’t make any economic sense to let go of 60% of the revenues that still get generated from theatrical events. Theatrical is the first window where revenues get generated, and after that comes OTT and then broadcasting. And, that’s a very big chunk. So, if you look at the overall pie, say roughly about 15,000-16,000 crores net box office revenue of India out of which 11,000 crore is still the box office collection so the rest is 4,000-5,000 crores is what you get from other platforms plus the overseas gets disrupted if you don’t play on the theatrical; music rights don’t get sold. So, there are a lot of things that don’t happen if you straight away go to the OTT.
He concluded his views by saying – “So mathematically and economically speaking, it is only happening as an aberration because you don’t have a situation where cinemas are locked down for three months. So, bigger movies like Sooryavanshi, ’83, Radhe and Coolie No. 1 and a lot of other Hollywood blockbusters that are lined up for release are all waiting. I’m in touch with everybody.”
It would be interesting to see how the multiplex chains will react when other Bollywood films make their way directly to the digital platforms.