The Multiplex Association of India had two mega-films Sooryavanshi and 83 when one by one, producers started opting for OTT premieres for their films. Reliance Entertainment, the producer of both the big-budget films, had assured the multiplexes in May that it would wait for cinemas to reopen after the lockdown is lifted instead of giving the two movie extravaganzas to an OTT platform to premiere. However, nobody then realised that normalcy would take its time to resume and cinemas will stay closed. 

Industry’s leading film trade expert Komal Nahta tells us more about the current scenario and says, “August is nearing its end, and nobody still knows when the Centre will permit cinemas to restart. The cinema trade is clueless about the date when the box-office windows of multiplexes and single-screen cinemas in the country will be permitted to reopen. Will it be in September? Or October? Reopening of cinemas is only half the story. The other — and equally important — half is whether the public will come in large numbers to the cinemas. Till that doesn’t happen, no producer will feel inclined to release his new film in the cinemas. And Reliance is hoping that cinemas reopen soon AND people come to the theatres in hordes. For, if that doesn’t happen, it may not deem it fit to release Sooryavanshi and 83 in the theatres.”

There are multiple scenarios. Here’s what Nahta has to illustrate the fronts- “Firstly, what if cinemas don’t reopen till Diwali: In this case, will Reliance postpone the release of Sooryavanshi or will it also go the OTT path? Secondly, Cinemas reopen all over India before Diwali but the public fights shy of coming to the cinemas for reasons of their own safety and security: In such an eventuality too, it will have to be seen what Reliance opts for — postponing the release or streaming on an OTT platform. Thirdly, Cinemas reopen all over India before Diwali, and the public comes in large numbers to the cinemas: This would be the ideal situation.”

Taking all aspects into account- Reliance would do what it has waited for — release its big-budget fare in the cinemas as an extravaganza. On the other side, if released on digital space, theOTT platform which has the digital rights will stream the film after the mandatory 60 days (8 weeks).

“Fourth aspect is that, Cinemas reopen in parts of India only, before Diwali, but the public fights shy of coming to the cinemas for reasons of their own safety and security: Will Reliance then consider releasing its film/s on an OTT platform or will it postpone the release of Sooryavanshi? Lastly, Cinemas reopen in parts of India only, before Diwali, and the public comes in large numbers to the cinemas: Will Reliance consider releasing its film/s theatrically wherever cinemas are functional and simultaneously, stream it on one or more OTT platforms, either on SVOD or TVOD? SVOD is subscription video on demand whereas TVOD is transaction video on demand (akin to pay per view video).”

Shibasish Sarkar, group CEO, Reliance Entertainment, expresses, “We are pretty confident that cinemas will reopen soon and there’ll be a sizeable audience frequenting cinemas by Diwali when it’s time for our Sooryavanshi to hit the screens.” 

He further adds, “Rohit (Shetty, director and co-producer of Sooryavanshi with Reliance Entertainment and Dharma Productions) says, why think about that now? Let’s be positive. Let’s think that our film will release in the cinemas just as it was meant to be.”