Theater owners lock horns with producers over OTT release of Malayalam movies

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Kochi/Thrissur: Online streaming giant Amazon Prime is all set for the world premiere of 7 movies in 5 Indian languages as the theaters across the country has been closed down due to the corona virus pandemic. Malayalam movie Suphiyum Sujathayum produced by Vijay Babu’s Friday Films, starring Jayasurya in the lead role would be released on the OTT platform.

The movies are expected to be released in the months of May, June and July on Amazon Prime. Meanwhile, the organization of the theater owners has protested against this move as these movies were supposed to have a theatrical release. The theater owners have also decided to boycott the films of Vijay Babu who chose to bypass a theater release for the digital platform. Meanwhile, Tamil movie Ponmagal Vanthal bankrolled by super star Suriya’s production company too is on Amazon Prime’s release list, despite the theater owners threatening to boycott his movies.

Shakuntala Devi, the biographical movie starring Vidya Balan, Amitab Bachchan’s Gulabo Sitabo, Kannada movies French Biryani and Law and Penguin, the Tamil / Telugu bilingual starring Keerthy Suresh are the other Indian movies that would be released on Amazon Prime. Ponmagal Vanthal would be released on 29 May while Gulabo Sitabo would be released on 12 June. Kannada movies Law and French Biryani would be released on 26 June and 24 July respectively. Meanwhile, 19 July has been decided as the release date of Keerthy starrer Penguin. The release dates of the rest of the movies haven’t been announced yet.

Protest

The theater organizations and the multiplex chain INOX in Kerala have expressed their strong protest against the digital release of the movies. The officials of the Kerala Cine Exhibitors Association said that the OTT platforms taking over the theatrical experience were worrisome. Association president Shaji said that they would ask the other film associations as well to boycott those who cooperate with such OTT platforms.

The Film Exhibitors United Organization of Kerala (FEOUK) has taken the stand that the theaters do not need the future films of the producer who decided to release his movie through OTT platforms during the time of lockdown. FEOUK general secretary MC Bobby said that the association would support the producers who patiently wait for the theaters to reopen after the corona virus crises.

Producers support move

Meanwhile, the producers association maintains that releasing movies through the OTT platforms would be a boon for the cinema industry. Vijay Babu said that the history of the world cinema has been changing and that he had decided to release the movie through digital platform as an attempt to survive this grave time of loss and struggle. The producers admit that they have suffered losses of crores of rupees as their movies cannot be released in the theaters. They added that around forty Malayalam movies were in various stages of production when the lockdown was announced. The national producers’ guild too favors the OTT releasing of the movies. They promise to release their movies in the theaters once the country tides over the Covid crises. They, however, says that they prefer OTT release for survival until then.

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World premiere

Gourav Gandhi, director and country general manager of Amazon Prime said, “Amazon Prime which has a presence in more than four thousand Indian cities, would take the movies to the living rooms and mobile handsets of audiences in more than two hundred countries. This is equal to a mega world premiere.”

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