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Showdown between producers and film exhibitors intensifies over OTT premiere

A tug-of-war has ensued between producers and film exhibitors over direct-to-digital release of some films across the different languages. One of India’s leading multiplex operators, INOX Leisure on Thursday issued a statement expressing its ‘extreme displeasure’ and ‘disappointment’ over some production house’s announcement to release their movies on OTT platform by skipping the theatrical premiere.

“The decision of the production house to deviate from the globally prevalent content windowing practice is alarming and disconcerting,” INOX said in the statement without naming the production house or the film.

The statement comes in the wake of an announcement by the online streaming giant Amazon Prime India on Thursday confirming the premiere of Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana starrer ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ on its platform on June 12. 

Cinemas and content creators have always been into ‘mutually beneficial partnerships’ where one action provided a filip to another’s revenues, the statement from India’s second largest movie exhibitor said.

“In these troubled times, it is disturbing to see one of the partners not interested in continuing the mutually beneficial relationship, especially when the need of the hour is to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, and bring the film industry back to its vibrant best,” the statement added.

A statement form India’s largest movie exhibitor, PVR Cinemas also expressed disappointment over direct-to-digital release of films.

In it’s counter statement, the Producers Guild of India (PGI) today supported the release of films on OTT platforms.

“At a time like this, it is important that each stakeholder understands and empathises with the predicament of the other, rather than adopting an adversarial stance which is counter-productive for the entire value chain,” the statement read.

PGI also emphasised that they are unequivocally and passionately supportive of the theatrical release of the films and it will always be the preference that were conceptualised as cinematic experiences.

“For producers to continue to keep ‘producing’ the movies that light up our cinema screens, they need to continue to be in business in the first place,” said the industry body which represents film, television and digital content producers.

Earlier this month, Multiplex Association of India (MAI) have also urged all partners, studios, producers, actors and content creators, to support the cinema exhibition by holding and releasing their films in the theatres only, once they open again. 

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