Anto Joseph, the producer of the Malayalam films, Fahadh Faasil-starrer Malik and Prithviraj Sukumaran-starrer Cold Case, has written to the Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation and the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala stating that he is trying to get a direct-to-OTT release for both the films.
In the letter dated June 8, Joseph said that he was initially planning to release Malik alongside Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham on May 13, this year, when the government permitted theatres to reopen. But unfortunately, due to the surge in Covid-19 cases, theatres have been shut down again. “These films will be able to recover the production costs only if 100% occupancy is allowed. However, since there is no clarity on reopening of theatres and given the existing financial strains, I’m trying for an OTT release for these films,” added Joseph.
Joseph also noted that the exhibitors and distributors associations, and the Kerala Film Chamber, have been very cooperative with him in the past. “I request your support in the future as well,” he said, adding that he has three films in the pipeline and another whose shooting is 50% complete.
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Liberty Basheer, President of the Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation, said, “We learnt that the producer of Malik and Cold Case is planning for direct-OTT release. It would be nice if they could wait to release the films in theatres, but we also understand that it is difficult for the producer to hold films for around two years. If they have decided to go for an OTT release, we cannot stop them as it is their right.”
Sumesh Joseph, General Secretary of the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala, said that they too received a letter from the Anto Joseph Film Company on Wednesday and added that they have no objections to the producer’s decision. “However, we will not be able to re-release the film once it is released on an OTT platform,” he noted.
Asked when theatres are expected to be reopened again, Basheer said, “Given the present Covid-19 situation, I don’t think theatres will reopen any time soon. But, we are looking forward to the Onam festive season. Mohanlal-starter Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham is scheduled to release on August 12. We hope the theatre industry will return to normalcy from Onam.”
Theatres in Kerala, which were shut for nine months in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, reopened on January 13, 2021, with the Tamil film Master. To help theatre owners recover from the losses incurred during the lockdown, the Kerala government had announced a waiver of entertainment tax for cinemas from January to March 2021 and reduced by 50% the fixed electricity charges for the months during which theatres remained closed.
However, in the wake of the second wave of Covid-19, in April the state government ordered all theatres and malls in the state to close by 7.30 pm. Later, a full lockdown was imposed in the state following which theatres remain fully shut down to date.
Kerala reported 16,204 positive cases and 156 deaths on Thursday. While the total active cases rose to 1,39,064, the state’s Covid-19 positivity rate stands at 14.08%.