The films of the best stars find a direct release in OTT

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NEW DELHI : Video streaming platforms are increasingly banking on popular stars for direct digital debuts in a marked shift from buying movies based on box office performance.

Akshay Kumar’s Cuttputtli, for example, has been acquired by Disney+ Hotstar. He is also likely to release two more films by the Bollywood star directly on the platform. Alia Bhatt’s Darlings debuted on Netflix, while Karan Johar’s Govinda Naam Mera, starring Vicky Kaushal, Bhumi Pednekar and Kiara Advani, will be available on Disney+ Hotstar.

Producers of these films have realized they may have had little success in theaters, while streaming services say an all-star cast can get them more eyeballs and subscribers. . “Streaming platforms have completely closed the door to small films featuring unknown faces or deemed unsellable after burning their fingers with far too many direct acquisitions during the confinements. However, some teams believe A-list star films, while medium-sized and not requiring theatrical experience, go well with their market expansion plans and help onboard new subscribers,” said one. film producer, seeking anonymity.

Disney+ Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video did not respond to questions.

Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema, said big stars create marketing hype for streaming services, especially if movies are released directly on platforms. “The experience also comes on the back of several small films managing little noise,” Mohan said.

However, other media pundits said movie stars could be hurt if their short films were released directly to millions of homes. “The common perception would be that their films are now available on home devices, at negligible rates, so why should a viewer spend a ticket to watch an upcoming title in theaters? It could impact the buzz and business of their other bigger movies,” the producer added.

Filmmakers are also experimenting with commonly followed Hollywood marketing strategies, in which actors launch feature films for theatrical releases, as well as web originals for OTT platforms. However, the Indian market has not matured enough to reap the benefits of such a strategy, he added.

Mint reported earlier that shows featuring popular stars are drawing small town audiences to OTT platforms. The web series starring Ajay Devgn, Salman Khan, and Madhuri Dixit enjoyed strong viewership. While Devgn’s Rudra: The Edge of Darkness was the most-watched show on Hotstar for its subscription video-on-demand plan, Dixit’s The Fame Game was the second-most-watched Hindi web series on Netflix.

Karan Taurani, senior vice president of Elara Capital Ltd, said direct-to-digital releases for movies will only benefit OTTs in the short term. “At the moment, the economy may not be favorable for some producers to release their films theatrically. However, cinema attendance will experience a strong comeback now that the window between theatrical premiere and digital premiere is reversed at eight weeks. In addition, platforms will be able to acquire these films for half the price after a theatrical release, so it will be a win-win situation for all,” Taurani added.

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