After Bollywood began exploring digital premiere of films since June, it was only a matter of time before we would witness a clash of movies. Come July 31, four films will compete for viewers’ attention — while Vidya Balan’s Shakuntala Devi drops on Amazon Prime Video, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte-starrer Raat Akeli Hai and Kunal Kemmu’s Lootcase will stream on Netflix and Disney+Hotstar respectively. They will have a rival in Vidyut Jammwal’s Yaara that will have dropped 24 hours earlier on ZEE5. With factors such as screen count and opening weekend collections no longer coming into play, how will a four-way clash pan out in the digital world?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a still from Raat Akeli Hai
Honey Trehan, who has helmed the Netflix outing, believes the beauty of the OTT world lies in the freedom it offers from box-office numbers. “There is no concept of a clash on OTT platforms. A viewer no longer needs to buy four tickets for four films; he has the subscription to the platforms.” Aparna Acharekar, programming head, ZEE5 India, notes movies no longer have the pressure of making money within a week before the next release hits the screens. “Also, each service has its loyal audience, which is the digital [equivalent of the] first day, first show viewer. Now, people can watch two to three movies [over one weekend].”
Considering streaming giants do not reveal the viewership figures of their projects, it is difficult to determine if a film bested its rivals. However, Varun Gupta, founder-director, Max Marketing, which handles digital promotion, says there is a method to the madness. “It’s a clash of the platforms, with each aiming to widen its subscription base. So, it will boil down to which film got you new subscriptions.” He predicts that the OTT world will have its own version of a clash once the honeymoon period is over. “Eventually, direct-to-web releases will move to a pay-per-view model.”
A still from Lootcase