A couple of days ago, a debate between Producers and Exhibitors erupted yet again. The debate erupted after HotStar+Disney announced that it is bringing home 7 big-ticket films. The films are Sushant Singh Rajput’s Dil Bechara, Akshay Kumar’s Laxmmi Bomb, Alia Bhatt’s Sadak 2, Abhishek Bachchan’s The Big Bull, Ajay Devgn’s Bhuj: The Pride of India, Vidyut Jammwal’s Khuda Haafiz and Kunal Kemmu’s Lootcase. While producers are trying to recover their initial investment with OTT deals, exhibitors are asking them to look at the bigger picture. A similar debate had erupted when Amazon Prime announced the OTT releases of Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana's Gulabo Sitabo and Vidya Balan's Shakuntala Devi.
Theatres have been shut for three months now. There is no news of when they can re-open. A few filmmakers are opting for OTT Platforms due to financial issues. The exhibitors are not happy with the announcement of big-budget films opting for OTT releases. Many big exhibitors such as INOX, Carnival Cinema have issued statements expressing their sadness over the producers’ decision. The two parties have issued statements of their own. Exhibitors say that when the economy is opening up, it is very disappointing to see big-budget films going straight to OTT. They say that malls have already opened, theatres too will open in a while. Exhibitors have expressed their sadness and disappointment towards producers opting for OTT release when theatres are steps away from opening up. In response to such statements, the Producers’ Guild issued a statement talking about how the film fraternity should support each other rather than issuing such 'abrasive and unconstructive messaging.' They say that in unprecedented times, they can not be blamed for decisions made due to financial inevitability as many people depend on the release of films for their livelihood.
While it might be easy to watch a film at the click of a button, there are larger issues at hand. In the current situation, it is quite difficult to say whether the producers’ decisions are the need of the hour or a paradigm shift in cinema viewing.