A day after the members of the Telangana State Film Chamber of Commerce (TFCC), requested producers to wait until October for theatres to reopen and advised them to opt for OTT releases only post that, the makers of several Telugu films confirmed on Thursday that their films will be theatrical releases.
Actors Satya Dev and Sundeep Kishan were among those who confirmed the theatrical releases of their films. While the former’s Thimmarusu is set to release on July 30, Sundeep reaffirmed that his Gully Rowdy will be released on the big screen.
Announcing the wrapping of Maha Samudram’s shooting, actor Sharwanand, on Friday, reiterated that the film will be a theatrical release.
Previously, actor Vijay Devarakonda had rubbished rumours that his film Liger had bagged a “huge OTT offer” for a direct digital release, saying, “Too little. I’ll do more in the theaters.”
With several makers thus reaffirming their support for theatrical releases, Silverscreen India spoke to film exhibitors and theatre owners about the future of theatres. While Telangana theatres have been granted permission to function at full capacity, the Andhra Pradesh government has restricted theatres there to 50% capacity. Telugu filmmakers are waiting to release their films after both states fully open up. So at present, there is no new content and theatres in both states remain shut.
Balgovind Raj Tadla, secretary of Greater Telangana Exhibitors Association, and partner at Sudharshan 35mm and Devi 70mm Theatres in Hyderabad, said, “In 2020, we were closed for about 250 days from March-December. This year, we’ve been closed for 80 plus days so far. So we need to reopen as soon as possible to get a burst of revenue.”
Anupam Reddy, owner of Hyderabad’s Sudha Theatres and TFCC executive committee member, said, “In December, when the theatres were shut, some producers went for OTT releases. But when theatres reopened, the makers of Solo Brathuke So Better and Red turned down OTT offers and released them on the big screen. Likewise, with theatres shut now, producers are panicking and are tempted by lucrative OTT offers. But, based on our request, films like Gully Rowdy have pulled back from the OTT platforms they were originally going with, to stand by theatres.”
Amid speculations that the Venkatesh Daggubati-starrers Narappa and Drushyam 2 are both opting for direct OTT premieres, TFCC also requested the makers of the films, Suresh Productions, to wait for theatres to reopen.
A source who was part of this meeting, said on condition of anonymity, “Narappa is co-produced by Kalaippuli S Thanu and Suresh said that the OTT release was decided by Thanu, adding the film is slated to release on July 24 on Amazon Prime Video. As for Drushyam 2, Suresh is only a 1/3 partner in the film. The deal in this case is with Netflix or Hotstar, but is yet to be signed. However, the makers are trying to pull both films from OTT platforms and release them in theatres instead.”
Suresh Productions is also looking to release its other film Virata Parvam in theatres, the source added.
Apart from requesting producers to reconsider OTT releases, the TFCC also met with the Chief Secretary of the state on Monday with a request for a series of relief measures for exhibitors, including permitting collection of parking fee and waiving electricity charges.
“Without the liberty to collect parking charges, theatres cannot sustain in the current conditions. Many theatres are closed for this particular reason and owners are even looking to let their premises as godowns,” explained Tadla.
“While several states have given a waiver of Property Tax for the entire year, we asked for it only during the lockdown period,” added Reddy.
“The government has responded positively to our demands,” said Tadla, who also feels optimistic about people returning to theatres. “Film-watching is a way to socialise. Watching in theatres is ten times more immersive than on smaller screens. With the Telugu film industry’s support, our theatres will revive,” he affirmed.
Meanwhile, Reddy gave us an insight into potential upcoming theatrical releases. “Acharya is eyeing a Dussehra release, while Pushpa will be out during Diwali or in December. Films like Tuck Jagadish and Love Story may release either on August 13 or 27. Seetimaar, RRR, and Khiladi are all confirmed for theatres and Sarkaru Vaari Paata is eyeing a January 2022 release.”