What’s a Bollywood release without the quintessential clashes at the box office where two or more films vie for the attention of the audience? And there were many face-offs lined up for this year, too, but the Covid-19 pandemic changed the equation as many filmmakers opted for the OTT route. Taking the box-office clashes with them.
But it’s not longer a worry for producers and exhibitors, as they don’t have to stress about getting enough screens in theatres.On July 31 for instance, three films are dropping on different OTT platforms — Shakuntala Devi, Raat Akeli Hai and Lootcase.
“It has been a period of disruptive thinking, we had to pull back and take some definitive calls. I do feel that in many ways we really need to learn to live in an environment where competition and clutter will exist wherever platforms are and wherever content is. The good news here is that the universes of eyeballs is so large that and the content offering especially on July 31st are so diverse, there is enough room and place for everyone,” says Vikram Malhotra, producer of Shakuntala Devi.
Director Tigmanshu Dhulia, whose film Yaara is releasing on July 30 on another OTT platform, says, “I don’t think that clashes are a matter of concern anymore because there are so many platforms now. The shelf life of a project on the web is very long. Aisa nahi hai ki pehle din kisne dekha.”
Even with these clashes, it’s a win-win situation for everyone, feels film trade expert Girish Johar, because as opposed to earlier, when ‘smaller’ films would be given bad show timings and bad theatres, with the OTT platforms they’ve also got a level playing field.
“It has always been a challenge for the smaller films to get screens and even when they did, they’d be consumed by the other big releases. This is a blessing in disguise for all such films. The smaller films don’t have to spend anything on promotions and marketing either,” he shares.
Flexibility of OTT platforms is what will make clashes redundant despite films releasing on the same dates, feels producer Anand Pandit, adding that rather than the clash, it might be the case of the clash of the OTT platforms.
“If a films ends at 9pm on one platform, I can’t go to another at 9:05pm and start another film. Clashes aren’t going to be how they used to be earlier. Each film will have its breathing space. If I’ve subscribed to three platforms, I’ll watch all three, there’ll be no either or, like it used to happen in theatres because of a tight budget every family has,” says Pandit, whose production, The Big Bull is also headed for an OTT release.
So, how are these release dates of the films being decided upon on the web? A source from an OTT platform shares that weekend slots are most popular. “It’s being decided mutually by the filmmakers and the platforms. Lockdown is still there, but weekends are considered to be free days when people have the time to watch something. Hence, most films are releasing on Fridays, resulting in so-called clashes,” he informs.
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