Kaithi's early premiere on Hotstar upsets theatre chain owners because of low footfall in screenings of Karthi's film

Raja Sekar

Dec 02, 2019 14:05:11 IST

Karthi-starrer action thriller Kaithi surprised everyone in the trade by grossing more than Rs 100 crore globally within 30 days of theatrical run. While multiplexes and leading theaters in Tamil Nadu were willing to continue the film in their screens for a few more weeks, the producers premiered it on Hotstar on 25 November.

 Kaithis early premiere on Hotstar upsets theatre chain owners because of low footfall in screenings of Karthis film

Karthi in a still from Kaithi. Image from Twitter

As PVR, the leading multiplex chain in India, is against films that are simultaneously available in both theaters and OTT platforms, they stopped all the shows which are scheduled for Kaithi this week.

PVR also owns Chennai’s leading multiplex SPI Cinemas so movie buffs, who wished to repeatedly watch Kaithi on the big screen, returned home disappointed. On knowing PVR’s decision, INOX and AGS also stopped the ongoing shows of Kaithi.

Representatives of Rohini Cinemas, Vetri Theaters, and GK Cinemas — the three mass centers which are known for creating the celebratory mood on the first day of the biggies — have also strongly opposed the decision of the producers of Kaithi.

SR Prabhu, one of the producers of Kaithi, tweeted in defense.

Check out the tweet herePVR

What Prabhu says is after the third week, the revenue share percentage between theater owners and producers will diminish. The third-week percentage will be way less than the first two weeks. The fourth and fifth-week percentage will be even less.  For producers, the maximum theatrical revenue comes only in the first two weeks of the theatrical run. The third and fourth-week run will mostly help the exhibitors.

But exhibitors feel if producers decide to premiere their films on OTT platforms after 30 days, it would affect the movie watching habit of the audiences. In the long run, the effect will be huge. Already, the box office revenue of Telugu films in the US took a hit after the arrival of OTT platforms. Audiences are not willing to pay premium prices on movie tickets in the US as most of the films are readily available on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Hotstar within 30 days.

“It is not about any particular movie. It is about a cultural shift. Once you know you can anyway watch the highest-quality version of the movie online in three to four weeks, the urge to watch it in cinemas will naturally reduce. We are talking about a longer impact, not an immediate one," says Nikilesh Surya, who runs Rohini Cinemas, one of the fan-friendly theatres in Chennai.

Talking about the premiere of Kaithi on Hotstar, and how it performed in Rohini Cinemas, Nikilesh tweeted, “Two out of three shows of #Kaithi went houseful yesterday @RohiniSilverScr on its 30th day since release. Today it is out officially online. This may not have an immediate effect but sets a dangerous precedent for the industry. Walking into a corporate trap, are we?"

Senthil, who runs Sri Sakthi Cinemas in Metuppalayam, agrees the average life span of most of the films is two weeks but the 30-day window will reduce it to one week. “If audiences start thinking that they could watch films after 30 days on any one of the OTT platforms, the average life span, which is two weeks for most of the films, will reduce to one week. It will affect the theatrical business."

Rakesh of Vetri Theaters says producers should allow films to run for 60 days in theaters. “The 60-day theatrical window should be followed. We can also follow a flexible agreement that if 90 percent of theaters in Tamil Nadu are not running a particular film, then they can air it on OTT platforms," says Rakesh.

Earlier, actress Trisha requested Sun Network to postpone the premiere of 96, which as holding well in theaters but as they paid a huge price, they went ahead and premiered the film on OTT.

The arrival of players like Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, and Netflix increased the overall revenue of the producers of big-budget films. However, AGS Entertainment, producers of the Diwali magnum opus Bigil, respected the sentiment of the theater owners, and agreed to premiere their film on Amazon Prime Video India only on 13 December.

Producers in the industry murmur as AGS Entertainment is also into multiplex business, they postponed the online premiere but for others, the money offered by the OTT platforms compensates the loss in the revenue.

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Updated Date: Dec 02, 2019 14:05:11 IST