There is no certainty as to when movie theatres will open in India.
Unnamed sources from the Central Government reveal that the cinemas will remain shut even when the national lockdown is over.
A spokesperson from a leading chain of theatres reveals, “Even after the lockdown we won’t be allowed to open theatres until a post-virus safety strategy is worked out.”
One proposal is to book tickets in each Audi with one seat empty between two patrons. Some multiplex chains have already decided on this ‘staggering booking’ strategy whereby seats will be left unoccupied between patrons.
However, this strategy is a distant possibility at the moment. Several producers who had decided to postpone their release dates and to wait for the theatres to open are now in the process of putting their films straight in the digital platform. The titles that are looking at transferring their sights from theatres to the digital platform include Rohena Gera’s Sir, Yash Raj Films’ Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, Eros Entertainment’s Haathi Mere Saathi, Bipin Nadkarni’s Darbaan. Several other titles scheduled to release in theatres in the second half of 2020 are also likely to relocate to the OTT platform.
Leading OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar are in negotiations with the producers.
A trade expert says the transfer to the home medium will be in a massive volume. “Other than Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi, David Dhawan’s Coolie No1, Kabir Khan’s ’83, Sanjay Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi, Jayeshbhai Jordaar, KGF Chapter 2 and a few others, most of the films scheduled for this year will be diverted to the OTT platform. It’s the only way out.”
Piku Director Shoojit Sircar whose Amitabh Bachchan-Ayushmann Khurrana starter Gulabo Sitabo was scheduled for release in April says the OTT platform may be the road ahead for his film and for the Hindi film industry.
Says Shoojit, “I think we have to move with the requirements of the times that we face. We can plan as much as we like. But the best of plans go awry. Maybe it’s time for Plan B for the film industry.”