By Divya Malhotra
New Delhi [India], October 19 (ANI): From watching 9 to 12 shows at cinema halls to movies in the comfort of one's home, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people entertain themselves.
The film industry went through a major change when OTT platforms arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, bypassing the release of movies in theatres.
During the pandemic, producers began to release mainstream Bollywood films on OTT platforms like Netflix, Zee5, Amazon Prime and this trend is going to continue as a lot of people are still cautious about going to theatres, said Dr Manmeet Kaur, an expert in film study and media communication who is also an Assistant Professor at Delhi Metropolitan Education.
"The good thing about OTT is that it has brought diversification in film content. Today producers of even low-scale movies can reach out to a wider audience without being concerned about how many theatres their films will release in," she told ANI.
OTTs are cost-effective too. For a middle-class family, PVR movie tickets for the whole family can add up to a big amount. And one is not sure whether the movie would fulfil their expectations.
In other words, digital platforms have become the new normal for the world of entertainment.
Dr Manmeet further rested her hopes upon upcoming big banner films like 'Sooryavanshi' which will help in evaluating the audience's acceptance of the theatrical experience of cinema.
Entertainment has long invaded our homes through television sets, but earlier the choice of what content we wanted to watch was not entirely ours. Now, with the emergence of OTT, it has become possible.
According to a senior movie trade analyst, the OTT is gradually breaking the barrier of language. For example, Netflix's 'Money Heist', a Spanish television crime drama was one of the much-watched shows in India and earned a lot of hits. So, currently, a programme need not be only in a particular language to find viewers.
"With OTT you have your own intervals, your own comfort, and the audience seems to be enjoying it. Audiences are using numerous different technologies to view films, documentaries, and web series on their smartphone devices. And it has become a challenge for the movie theatre industry to attract the audience back to cinemas, despite becoming fully operational in the nearby future," he added.
But it is also difficult for OTT platforms to have comparable screen size and sound quality as compared to theatres.
Take the example of the recently released 'Chehre' that starred megastar Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi. The movie was one of the most-anticipated movies of the year 2021 and got released on August 27 after much delay.
Despite having a popular star cast, the film failed to garner a good box office collection.
Expressing his views on the impact of OTT in cinema, 'Chehre' producer Anand Pandit shared, "We should not pit the OTT platforms and the film industry against each other. In all walks of life and even in this case, we must find the golden mean or the desirable middle between two extreme perspectives."
During the worst phase of the pandemic, the OTT platforms extended a lifeline to producers who could not wait interminably to release their films.
"My own film, 'The Big Bull' was released on an OTT platform and now after enjoying a theatrical run, my film 'Chehre' is having a great run on Amazon Prime. We can synergise creatively as well to expand the reach of our content and make it truly borderless," he explained.
Entertainment is entertainment and can be enjoyed on any screen, be it big or small. Indeed, a new wave of OTT platforms was observed during the pandemic because people were restricted to their homes.
But now, as the situation has started to get better and cinemas are gradually opening with strategic planning and COVID-19 protocols, the audience might come back to theatres to experience the thrill of big-screen entertainment once again.
Shedding light on the subject, Vivek Krishnani, Managing Director, Sony Pictures Films India, said he noticed the same with their latest release 'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' which was released in India on October 14 and "emerged as the biggest opening weekend in India for any Bollywood or Hollywood film post the opening of the cinemas with a stellar opening of Rs 15.5 crores."
He said the film garnered the same response globally too, proving to be Sony's biggest opening of all time in the market. "So, eventually, it is the viewers who are the ultimate winners because they get to choose their source of entertainment," Vivek told ANI.
Viewers of the modern era are constantly searching for original interactive content and for that they are ready to spend extra bucks to seek a completely immersive experience in movie theatres or on OTT platforms.
In conclusion, one can say that OTT platforms and movie theatres are likely to co-exist for a long time. (ANI)