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Movie Halls vs OTT Release; Business Compulsions Pose Moral Dilemmas For Indian Cinema’s Stakeholders

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The Multiplex Association of India (MAI), along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) has put out a statement requesting the Indian film fraternity to support theatres by temporarily holding, and releasing films in cinemas once the coronavirus-induced lockdown comes to an end.

The letter talks about how theatres, have managed to bring in audiences for many decades to witness the efforts put in by investors, producers, directors, artists, studios, and crews in making films. It spoke of how the shutting down of theatres has affected all the stakeholders severely, causing hardship.

It said that the MAI was committed to working with Government institutions and various other partners to ensure the survival of cinema halls post the lockdown. It laid emphasis on the need to cooperatively revive the industry for the sake of all industry constituents and viewers.

“MAI would like to urge all studio partners, producers, artists, and content creators to support the cinema exhibition sector, a vital part of the value chain, by holding and releasing their films in the theatres, once they open again. To this end, we urge all studios, producers, artists, and other content creators, to kindly respect the exclusive theatrical window, which has been a time-tested industry practice, agreed to by all stakeholders, not just in India, but even globally, for several decades,” read the statement.

The theatrical window is the first part of the film business model called ‘release window’ designed for the release process of a film. ‘Theatrical window’ refers to the number of days a film remains in theatres before it reaches the second part, the video window, where the film becomes available for viewing on DVD or on streaming platforms.

The MAI thanked producers and artists for the support they’ve extended in the past few weeks by not releasing their films on Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms and said that the experience of watching films on the big screen was something that had to be preserved forever.

It also added that with the amount of films stacked up, awaiting a release, and the new films that are being produced, the film business is bound to soar, leading to the rapid recovery of the industry.

Reports that big films like Ranveer Singh starrer 83Akshay Kumar starrer Laxmmi Bomb, and Vijay‘s Master may have a direct OTT release, were recently doing the rounds. Although, the makers of the films have denied these rumours.

Small films like Jyothika starrer Ponmagal Vandhal, (which was recently mired in controversy over the makers’ decision to hit OTT platform directly), and Siddharth starrer Takkar will most likely release on digital platforms. These digital platforms have reportedly agreed to pay a large sum for small-budget films.

Read: Jyotika’s ‘Ponmagal Vandhal’ To Release Directly On Amazon Prime; Suriya’s 2D Entertainment Faces Severe Backlash From Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Association

Also Read: South Indian Producers Stand By Suriya’s Decision To Release ‘Ponmagal Vandhal’ On OTT Directly

It is noteworthy that the Multiplex Association of India had previously appealed to landlords across the country to waive off rent and common area maintenance (CAM) for all multiplex operators until the lockdown ends.

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