With Jio Studios planning to release a new film on their platform every week, we talk to some producers, distributors, exhibitors – to get their insights on the same….

Jio Studios has recently announced that they will be releasing a new film as a part of their ‘first day first show’ format on their platform. Of course, this will take some time to get going after they develop a bouquet of content. But we talk to industry insiders to get their reaction on this, and also the repercussions on the business. Read on…

Mukesh Bhatt

The world is changing and we have to change with it. We cannot dictate how the world has to function. We have to move along with the changing times or else we’ll get washed away. I gave the rights of ‘Ghulam’ on television in 1998, after since months, after the film did silver jubilee also and all these distributors ganged up against me and said that, ‘you can’t give films on television for five years.’ So, that’s the old way of thinking. I gave the rights of ‘Ghulaam’ after six months and still they banned me. I was the first one to break that chain. Though, distributors have given me the overflow, the run is over in the theatres. So, now if someone is giving me money for its satellite rights then I should I not monetise on it after its run is over? Tell me one good reason for it? After that, everyone else, others like Yash Chopra started doing it after me and the satellite market opened up. That’s the change of technology. That’s how you have to go with changing times. If time is saying something, you have to go with it. You have to flow with the rhythm of the river and anyone who doesn’t do that will get washed away. Even the biggest of films of Salman Khan, the maximum people seeing it in the theatres are two crores, whereas on the OTT platform, there are 50crore people seeing it. So, what are we talking about? The basic thing is, the world has changed and we need to change with it or we’ll get washed away. Every person who wants to just think about himself and not others in the chain, then that’s a problem. It’s a schizophrenic way of functioning. The law of life is, we all have to listen to each other and think of each other. In the changing world, the right way forward is to bring value to each other’s life. You can’t think just about your own benefit. If I want to remain healthy, it’s important to see everyone else is healthy too. How can I live in a pond which is infected? All the fishes in the pond need to be healthy. Everyone in the chain must think of each other. One needs to create a road map which is practical and a win-win situation for everyone to survive – that’s the key. If I say this, then everyone should say the same, but many don’t; that’s the tragedy.

Ramesh Taurani

I’m not sure if this is for mainstream films or just those which they are going to premiere on Jio basically. I’m sure they’re not releasing the currently running films. They’re specially making films to release on that platform. Again, only if the content is good, people will consume it. Netflix and Amazon are also there but people are still rushing to the cinemas. It’s not that people are going to stop going to the theatres. But if their content is good, it may make a slight difference in days to come. I don’t foresee anything happening to cinema drastically. People who want to watch movies in the theatres will still go there. So, we’ll have to first wait and watch the kind of films they’re releasing.

Amit Khanna

It has nothing to do with people going to theatres. We have to understand that India releases 2000 films in a year and we have only 9000 screens so our capacity is very low in terms of screens and with the population we have. So, I believe this will not impact the screen attendance for the next 5 years because of the shortage of screens and secondly the kind of films Jio is planning to make is films between the budgets of 10 to 15 crores. And also, they have specific audiences to it, it’s like Netflix will be doing it, Amazon will be doing it and other people will also be doing it, so, Jio is not the only one. Everyone has a different audience and both will co-exist and it’s a boon of the production sector because more producers and talents will get more work.

Rajat Rawail

The idea of simultaneously releasing movies which is in theatres as well as on an OTTP app is a vision that can go through partially and not 100%. When I say partially I mean there could be a set of films which today I feel can theatrically release but in the near future because of the external cost like print, advertising and other related cost. Would not feature in theatre but would prefer to ideally be an obstruct against OTTP app. This again goes to a very slim margin of films as I look at the situation today. If you tell me this is going to be a 50 to 70% start margin than I won’t agree with that. Approximately 300 Films will release in a year. In the beginning you could get between 30 to 50 such films where the A lister films are concerned which features top stars it is going to be impossible. If you have those films releasing simultaneously in apps as well as cinema theatres. Where the business model is concerned and when it’s Jio as we all know it’s backed by one of India’s leading business houses which is the Reliance so I’m sure they must have done a due diligence and they must have arrived at a very successful business model plan which could have years of investment into it at this premature junction. In the near future this could be the vision that could take at a cross. These are all phases of cinema and when the video cassette came they said that the cinemas are going to close down. Then came the reincarnation laser disk and cd. For the matter of fact the companies that manufactured these so called hardwares closed down and cinema theatres have only been increasing. So whatever and however format you plunge into of entertainment I don’t think it can ever affect cinema and that is a myth. The experience of going to the cinema and watching the same movie on your mobile phone is always different and will stay different forever.

Amod Mehra

It’s easy to say but difficult to do because firstly you have to get the rights of the film. Now to get the rights of any film, for example, a big film like ‘War’ – they will have to pay a bomb. And why would anyone give the rights of a big film like this for digital and break their business, when you expect to make a good film and have an overflow, mint money. Like, ‘DDLJ’ is still running. Why would you want to curb that? So they will only have to make their own cinema and do what they want to do. Secondly, it sounds good on paper but the practical issues will be difficult. You will have small films releasing online, which have no outlet will release here. So, in short, this won’t affect the film business. The biggest example is, ‘Maine Pyaar Kiya’. It released in theatres as well as video and still it went on to be a superhit. At that time, people said, we’ll watch it at home on video but people still came to the theatres. The charm of the theatres will remain, so there’s no chance of this affecting their business.

Vishal Pandya

Everyone has not yet taken it seriously, but statements coming from producers and directors have not given any solution.  Jio Studios have made it clear what their intention is, but we as a fraternity is may be not ready to accept it. What I have heard from most of the people is that, if whoever wishes to watch a film, they will surely come to theatres to watch the film. Because the fact remains that a television is a television, and a cinema hall will be a cinema hall. I feel this will benefit many people and also it will make a difference. Right now we aren’t reacting, but when it will be out there then people will wonder and think about what can be done next.  Somewhere or the other, the industry will face problems but may be the small films won’t face any problems as compared to the big films. It’s a wait and watch moment, as of now.

Rajesh Thadani

I’m not sure if this is for mainstream films or just those which they are going to premiere on Jio basically. I’m sure they’re not releasing the currently running films. They’re specially making films to release on that platform. Again, only if the content is good, people will consume it. Netflix and Amazon are also there but people are still rushing to the cinemas. It’s not that people are going to stop going to the theatres. But if their content is good, it may make a slight difference in days to come. I don’t foresee anything happening to cinema drastically. People who want to watch movies in the theatres will still go there. So, we’ll have to first wait and watch the kind of films they’re releasing.

Murli Chhatwani

If they are releasing the film every week but it is going as such a hold over period of what cinema is, then I don’t think it should hinder anyone but if they are trying to release the film simultaneously with cinemas or one week after the releases of the films, then it is not very good news.  And I think they should not be allowed to do that also, unless and until they want to make digital films and release only on digital platforms without cinemas. They are most welcome to do that, if they want to make digital films.  If they are thinking beyond this, then it will trouble the people and hinder the collection of cinemas and also it will spoil the experience of watching a film in the theatre. There are certain people who don’t want to watch films in cinema hall so, for them it is fine. Films like ‘Chhichhore’, ‘Dream Girl’, ‘Section 375’, they are running in cinemas for 4 to 5 weeks.

Tarun Tandon

We still don’t have a clear understanding of whether will they be the films coming in the theatre which will release on that platform at the same time or the producers and multiplex chain is going to take a call and restrict the release of such films on the digital platform. One thing that I understand is that, digital platform has become a major source of revenue for producers but at the same time, the proper way of watching a film is going to the theatres. There will be an impact but I believe there’ll be a temporary impact. Content wise, there is so much more which we can create. Today, even with Amazon and Netflix doing well, we do have films like ‘Dreamgirl’ and ‘Chhicchore’ which are doing well and collecting money in the theatres. But the same movies being screened on the digital platform – what would be the cost to it, or the experience of people watching it on a digital platform – are things we shall have to wait and watch. I think that will be a temporary phase which will affect our business. Not the producers, but for us. We will have to wait and watch what the impact will have be, but we will just have to sail through those months of a temporary phase. It’s not a challenge for Jio to get the content but the challenge is to see how successful this is going to be, what’s the premium which the users are paying and basically how it’s being received. People come to the theatres for a cinematic experience plus content. So, not sure if how the experience at home going to be for such films. All the plexes are striving for increasing the number of screens, once that happens they’ll probably know that what will be the saturation point for the number of screens also, so that also will be a big factor to decide. Also, there are films which will only release for the digital platforms, for example, ‘Drive’ is only releasing digitally. So, there’s a lot of scope for producers now to make good content. I see the cinema windows to drop for a while, but I see that to be just temporary. Overall, the movie going experience, cannot be replaced at home.

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