‘Smaller films can opt for direct-to-digital premiere’

Producers of small and medium-budget movies can opt for a direct-to-digital premiere to recover their investments following the uncertainty over the reopening of cinemas amid the pandemic, according to the Kerala Film Producers Association (KFPA).

The producers’ body is of the view that such movies may face a sub-optimal showcasing when cinemas reopen in view of the considerable backlog of movies awaiting release. “The OTT (over-the-top) release will not be feasible for big-budget movies, taking into account the gaps in the return on investment compared to a theatrical release,” said B. Rakesh, treasurer of the KFPA, on Saturday. “Smaller films will be in a better position to recover the investment while going for a direct release on the digital platform,” he added.

“The direct OTT release of smaller movies will not have a major dent on the prospects of the exhibitors. Majority of the producers agree that the cinematic experience of a theatrical release cannot be replaced by the digital platforms,” said Mr. Rakesh.

G. Suresh Kumar, former president, KFPA, said there had been no official confirmation yet on the direct-to-digital release of Malayalam movies, except for Sufiyum Sujathayum. “It seems discussions are being carried out by intermediaries on behalf of the producers who are ready for a direct digital release. The intermediaries will also claim a share of the pie once the OTT deal is secured,” he said.

On the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mr. Rakesh said movies worth more than ₹350 crore in investment had been affected. “Nearly 20 movies are ready for release when the cinemas open. Twenty-five to 30 films are in various stages of post-production,” he said.

Mr. Rakesh said the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce had convened a meeting of producers, distributors, and exhibitors on May 27 to chalk out the way forward and to seek relief from the government to tide over the COVID-19 crisis.