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Carnival Cinemas disappointed as several big films announce digital releases


Carnival CEO Mohan Umrotkar said that going the OTT route would hamper the overall growth of the industry.

Our Correspondent

Yesterday, six more films headed the OTT (other-the-top) platform route as Laxmmi Bomb, Bhuj: The Pride Of India, Sadak 2, The Big Bull, Khuda Haafiz and Lootcase all announced their digital premieres on Disney+ Hotstar.

Shortly afterwards, the Carnival Cinemas group put out an official statement proclaiming its disappointment at the trend.

The theatre group's CEO Mohan Umrotkar stated, "We stand by our previous statement. It is very disappointing that filmmakers are opting for a digital-first route when we are just steps away from the theatrical release with the reopening of cinema halls across the country with all necessary precautions. The economy is reopening and malls have already opened. They just need to have some faith and patience to hold the content for the big screens, that is what it was made for.

"During the lockdown we have participated in many surveys to realize that the audience is waiting for cinemas to reopen," he added. "For the entertainment industry to flourish, everyone needs to stand by each other. And if films made for theatres release directly on streaming platforms it may hamper the overall growth of the ecosystem."

A month and a half ago, the Carnival group had put out a statement expressing sympathy for the plight of producers but adding a caveat that those films that go for digital release would not be released in their theatres.

"Though we are disappointed with the move of filmmakers to go straight to digital, we understand the financial burden/compulsion that one may have in these times... The situation is such that you cannot blame anyone. In this time of uncertainty some producers have decided to release their content directly on OTT. It is within their rights to decide, but we will not release those movies in our theatres."

Then, too, the group expected that theatres would reopen soon. Currently, theatres in a few countries where cases have stabilized or been under control have reopened with strict conditions. In the US, several tentpole films like Christopher Nolan's Tenet (2020) and Disney's Mulan have been pushed to August as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country.

In India as well, while film and TV shooting have slowly but cautiously begun, many of the big cities are seeing a continuous rise in cases. Even as the lockdown restrictions are supposedly easing, theatres are certain to be the last to reopen in the country.

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Coronavirus Disney+ Hotstar