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After Inox, PVR expresses disappointment at growing number of filmmakers turning to OTT platforms

The multiplex chain put out a statement expressing disappointment at the recent trend, but also stating that demand will increase once theatres reopen.

Our Correspondent

With some major films like Gulabo Sitabo (2020) and Shakuntala Devi (2020) heading for release directly on the OTT platform Amazon Prime Video without waiting for a theatrical release, the rift between exhibitors and producers is growing in the lockdown.

After multiplex chain Inox Leisure Ltd issued a strongly worded missive against the move by producers, the Producers' Guild of India stepped in to support the move to OTT platforms. Now, PVR, the country's largest multiplex chain, has also come out in the open to oppose the decisions by producers.

In a statement, the PVR group said, 'At PVR, we believe the theatrical release is the best way for audiences to experience the labour and creative genius of our filmmakers. This has been so for decades, not just in India but globally. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has caused an unfortunate shutdown of cinemas. We are confident that once we get to the other side of this crisis, there would be enough pent-up demand from cine-goers who have been cooped up at home for the last many weeks. We are likely to see demand by force on sustained basis, once we reopen.'

Last week alone saw Shoojit Sircar's Gulabo Sitabo move to Amazon Prime Video, followed by the Vidya Balan-starrer Shakuntala Devi. In addition, the Amazon platform has acquired several regional films to add to its slate for the year. There are also reports suggesting that T-Series, among the country's biggest production houses, is in talks with Netflix for the Kiara Advani-starrer Indoo Ki Jawaani.

While several film industry insiders suggest this is a temporary phase, the move has clearly caused some anxiety among theatre owners.

In its statement, PVR continued, 'Needless to say, we are disappointed with some of our producers deciding to go straight to streaming platforms. We were hoping that the producers would accede to our request to hold back their films' release till cinemas reopened. That said, this is not the first time films are being premiered on streaming platform/s. Cinema exhibition has regularly faced competition from new emerging distribution platforms over the last many years, and it has continued to enjoy cine-goers' patronage and affinity.'

The statement went on to thank filmmakers who continue to hold out for theatrical release.

Meanwhile, several film personalities have spoken in support of the move to OTT platforms as an emergency measure. Actress Taapsee Pannu was among those who supported the decisions. She called it a 'paradigm' shift as she put out a cryptic tweet that alluded to the recent moves. 

Director Pooja Bhatt did not mince words when she wrote, 'Do theatres run movies or do movies run theatres? Content is king. The platform is secondary. People’s safety MUST take priority over profitability. If we truly care for our audience,we need to take the movies to them. Not lure them to theatres until we can guarantee safety.'

Aligarh (2016) writer Apurva Asrani also shared his views on social media asking exhibitors to support cinema rather than widening the rift.

The countrywide lockdown, put in place on 24 March, appears set to be extended beyond the current deadline of 18 May.

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