Kerala Minister for Cinema Saji Cherian said on Friday that all new films, right from the ones starring megastars to small stars, should first release in theatres.
"The government's stand is clear. If a film has been shot, it has to be shown in the theatre. We are not going to encourage the release through OTT platforms," Saji Cherian told reporters in the Media Room of the Assembly.
He said the OTT was a stop-gap arrangement to tide over the pandemic restrictions. He said the OTT platforms would be of use even in the changed situation but only for small players whose films were not picked up by theatres.
If the theatre route is ignored, the minister said that it would sound the death knell of the film industry.
However, the reality is even big films that are suited for the big screen are vying for slots in OTT platforms even after theatres have opened. The Mohanlal-starrer, 'Marakkar: Arabikkadalinte Simham', is a case in point. There were reports that the film's producer Antony Perumbavoor was negotiating with leading OTT platforms.
When he was informed of Antony's moves, Saji Cherian gave an all-knowing half smile. "Antony will release his film in theatres," the minister said in a tone that suggested that the producer would be made to feel the heat if he did otherwise.
Nonetheless, the minister said there would be no lifting of the 50% occupancy condition for theatres. "A theatre is not like a transport bus. It is air-conditioned, an ambience fertile for the virus to spread. So the number limit will continue for some more time," he said.
The limited occupancy, according to both producers and exhibitors, is standing in the way of the industry fully cashing in on the opening of theatres. This was also why producers of big budget movies were reluctant to release their films in theatres.
At the same time, the minister said the other major demands of exhibitors like a waivers of electricity fixed charge and entertainment tax, and the relaxation in the insistence on double vaccination for viewers would be favourably considered.
"The theatre owners have some 15 demands, touching upon various departments like health, local self government, finance and KSEB. The chief minister has called a meeting of ministers holding these portfolios on November 2 to discuss the issue," the cinema minister said.