The Malayalam film industry had adopted a wait-and-watch approach before directly releasing new movies on the OTT (over-the-top) streaming platforms during the pandemic. And since, the lockdown is over now, and the theatres are opening their doors with 100 percent occupancy. There are new issues coming up for the movie producers regarding the OTT platform direct releases.
Now, even though the movies are being theatrically released in theatres after the lockdown people still wary of coming to the theatres despite the government implementing the 100 percent occupancy. Such people prefer an online OTT direct release that can be watched from the comfort of their own homes.
So, without much traffic at the theatres and the theatrical releases unable to do that well like before. Some movie producers are opting for a direct release due to the Corona effect. As the income, they receive from OTT platforms is much higher at present.
Earlier the issue was with the Malayalam movies being directly released on OTT platforms so as not to incur heavy losses. There have been discussions going on about these issues since last April.
The discussions on direct release on the digital platforms actually came after reports that actor Suriya’s production house, 2D Entertainment, was planning a similar release of the Jyothika-starrer Pon Magal Vandhal in the first week of May 2020.
“None of the producers of the movies that were ready for release in April 2020 and May 2020 had approached us requesting permission for a direct OTT release. The theatrical release would be impossible once the producers decide to go for a direct digital release,” said M. Renjith, president of the Kerala Film Producers’ Association.
Stating that the leading players in the OTT platforms would eye for movies having big stars and wider reach, Mr. Renjith pointed out that the sole release on digital platforms would not be a feasible revenue model for the producers.
“The average pricing for a Malayalam movie in the OTT platform is in the range of Rs 2 to 3 crore only and hence it would not match the returns from a theatrical release. However, the direct release of small movies can be explored if its producers consider it as an option to get out of the current crisis,” he said.
M. C. Bobby, general secretary of the Film Exhibitors United Organization of Kerala, said that theatres would not screen movies that opt for a direct OTT release.
“There would be nobody to watch those movies in theatres after being first released on the digital platform. We have not come across any such plans from the producers of Malayalam movies for a direct OTT release,” he said.
However, the new announcement brings in more trouble for the movie producers after the ongoing debate about the movie releases on the OTT platforms. The new announcement states that the Malayalam movies can only be released on OTT platforms after 42 days of their theatrical release says Kerala Film Chamber, Distributors /Producers Association and FEUOK.
Some of the upcoming Malayalam movies that are ready for release are Chakra, Ajagajantharam, Angraheethan Antony, and so on. Drishyam 2 – The Resumption, A Jeethu Joseph Film starring Mohanlal was released as a direct OTT release as an Amazon Original on February 8th, 2021.