Though there is no doubt theatres will be winners as nothing in the world gives the joy of watching a movie on big screen, OTT has now become a new revenue making avenue for the film industry
Covid-19 has created a market which many OTT players were expecting only in 2023-24. In other words, the disruption has already begun in the Indian premium OTT space with Disney+ Hotstar announcing seven films to release on its platform.
Though there is no doubt theatres will be winners as nothing in the world gives the joy of watching a movie on big screen, OTT has now become a new revenue making avenue for the film industry.
“Producers who have already invested heavily in their films with theatrical revenue assumptions that are no longer feasible, will seek out all avenues available to recover their investment and to stay in business,” the Producers Guild of India had said in a statement last month.
Disney+ Hotstar is set to premiere seven Bollywood movies — which were originally slated for theatrical releases — from July 24 onwards, in a move that could intensify the battle between theatre owners and video streaming applications over movie releases.
These movies will be streamed between July and October this year, starting with late Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer ‘Dil Bechara’ on July 24. Other movies include Akshay Kumar-Kiara Advani’s ‘Laxmmi Bomb’, Alia Bhatt-Aditya Roy Kapur-starrer ‘Sadak 2’, Abhishek Bachchan’s ‘The Big Bull’, Vidyut Jammwal’s ‘Khuda Haafiz’, Ajay Devgn-Sanjay Dutt’s ‘Bhuj’ and Kunal Khemu’s ‘Lootcase’.
This comes after similar deals by rivals Amazon Prime Video that picked up seven Bollywood and regional films including Amitabh Bachchan-Ayushmann Khurrana’s ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ and Vidya Balan starrer ‘Shakuntala Devi’ for a direct-to-digital premiere and Netflix that picked up Janhvi Kapoor starrer ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’.
‘Dil Bechara’ will be the first movie to premiere on Disney+ Hotstar, and in a bid to “commemorate late Sushant Singh Rajput’s invaluable contribution to Hindi cinema,” this movie will be available to non-subscribers of Disney+ Hotstar as well, the company said. The movie also features Sanjana Sanghi and Saif Ali Khan.
“Today as we launch Disney+Hotstar Multiplex, we find ourselves yet again at the cusp of making a revolutionary change by bringing the biggest Bollywood movies directly to millions across the country… Theatres are a special experience. So, they will always exist and thrive. But the potential of the industry can’t be capped by the number of release windows and theatres available. Our initiative will dramatically increase the number of films that can be made, giving film-lovers more films to enjoy and the creative community more films to make. We firmly believe that this will generate a massive momentum for more and different kinds of films to be made in India. It’s a win-win for all,” said Uday Shankar, President, The Walt Disney Company APAC, and Chairman, Star & Disney India.
“In the future, theatres and OTT will move in parallel. Both options offer their own strengths,” said Ajay Devgn, who will be seen in Bhuj: The Pride of India.
Hotstar, the largest OTT player in the country after Jio (35.5 per cent market share) with over 30 per cent share of the market, continues to attract more audiences, compared to global leaders like Netflix (9.2 per cent) and Amazon Prime (14.8 per cent) in India.
This move comes at a time when the ~20,000-crore-a-year Indian film industry is badly hit by lockdown of multiplexes and single-screen theatres —leaving it with no other avenue but to try and monetise the OTT platform.
There is still uncertainty over when movie theatres will be allowed to reopen across the country, after they were forced to shutdown in March this year, due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown. While the government has eased restrictions for businesses across various sectors, it is yet to provide a specific date for reopening of cinema halls.
According to estimates, there are over 250-million OTT users in India. This number is expected to surpass 450 million by 2022.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the ABC Television Network has announced the 93rd Oscars ceremony will move to Sunday, April 25, 2021, as a result of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19.
The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network and in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
“For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring, and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year. Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control,” said Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “This coming Oscars and the opening of our new museum will mark an historic moment, gathering movie fans around the world to unite through cinema.”
“We find ourselves in uncharted territory this year and will continue to work with our partners at the Academy to ensure next year’s show is a safe and celebratory event that also captures the excitement of the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures,” said Karey Burke, president, ABC Entertainment.
Industry veterans remembered that in 1938 Oscar Ceremony was pushed back because of flooding in Los Angeles; In 1968, it was delayed by a couple of days following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And in 1981, it was put off for a day after President Ronald Reagan was shot in Washington D.C.
Dates also have shifted for the Academy Awards eligibility period, submission deadlines and related awards season events. The eligibility period for Academy Awards consideration has been extended beyond the standard December 31 deadline: a feature film must now have a qualifying release date between January 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021. The submission deadline for specialty categories (Animated Feature Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, International Feature Film, Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film) is December 1, 2020. The submission deadline for general entry categories, including Best Picture, Original Score and Original Song, is now January 15, 2021. Visit oscars.org/rules for the complete 93rd Academy Awards rules, revised with these dates and deadlines.
During this time, it has become necessary to make exceptional changes to the Academy’s standard annual awards schedule. The intent going forward is to ultimately return to awarding excellence for films released in the January-December calendar year. Future eligibility windows and the Oscar show date for 2022 will be announced at a later date.
Academy key dates for the 2020/2021 Oscar season are as follows:
Preliminary voting begins Monday, February 1, 2021
Preliminary voting ends Friday, February 5, 2021
Oscar Shortlists Announcement Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Nominations voting begins Friday, March 5, 2021
Nominations voting ends Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Oscar Nominations Announcement Monday, March 15, 2021
Blockchain continues to be a watchword in the media and entertainment sector and beyond. The technology, which is set to disrupt the existing model of third-party distribution, will not only change the way we consume content but will also herald a new era of transparency and flexibility in the way the content is produced, says Alexander Shulgin, a visonary, investor, composer, entrepreneur, futurist, and a Blockchain specialist
How do you think Blockchain is going to change the landscape for media and entertainment industry?
Blockchain is set to change everything. It will change how the people access content; it will change industrial businesses and, of course, our life style. Media & Entertainment is one of the most important aspects of our lifestyle, which is already a trillion dollars industry. Blockchain will transform it dramatically. It will change the way the content is created and allow its decentralization. One will be able to create content while streaming or accessing it. Blockchain is not going to be about distribution of content, rather it will be about accessing it.
Before the digital era arrived, there used to be a Master Tape, which could be used to create limited copies of cassettes, DVDs, CDs, etc. When the digital era came the Master Tape disappeared because you could make unlimited copies of the same quality and distribute it. However, now distribution of unlimited copies of a film has become more and more expensive because you need to distribute the content in terms of Gigabytes and Terabytes.
Blockchain resolves this issue smartly. For instance, if a new series of Games of Thrones is launched there will be only one copy of it which will be in the DotBC standard. This standard is comparable to standards like MPEG or MP3, but it allows unlimited access to smart content.
So instead of distributing this one copy of Games of Thrones to 100 million firms, Blockchain allows you to give them access to this content. It will significantly reduce the cost of distribution and help the creator monetize every view by the users.
For instance, if you have distributed the copy of the content there may be people who will watch it for just five minutes and don’t like it. But in this case you have already spent heavily on distributed terabytes.
However, if you give access of the content to the people even if they don’t like it you will save lot of bytes. Also, the data used can immediately give you statistics. It is much like pay for what you watch.
Today, if I put my content on YouTube I am paid by advertisers only if I have more than, say, 10,000 views. If only 300 people watch the content, they don’t pay you. But the Blockchain will allow you to get paid for even one view that too immediately.
Is it like you pay from your credit card?
When you make a payment through credit card, the card company asks American Express or Mastercard to make the transactions and sometimes one transaction may cost you three dollars. But since using Blockchain you can make a trillion transactions in one go that too at the cost of one transaction, it won’t matter how many transactions you do.
Will Blockchain allow distribution of an Indian film in the Latin America, Brazil in their languages?
When producers give content, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon don’t provide the data. Sometimes they share some data but they keep the data mainly with themselves. The data is new oil, new gold. If you have the data then you can monetize it by selling it to the interested parties.
Machine learning, which is a form of Blockchain, will automatically know where the user comes from and provide the content translated in the language known to them. Suppose I come from France and I know French, I will be the French translation of the content automatically. It has become easier now with the emergence of language translation services like Google, Microsoft and others.
Is it going to change the way movies or content are distributed?
Distributor will not distribute because the producer will have the access. There will be no distributor. The nature of Blockchain will disrupt third parties. It will make direct connections with the user. Today if I have to send an SMS, my SMS will go to a Moscow server then it will go to a Mumbai operator before getting delivered to the intended person. It travels thousands of miles, which means extra cost. It wastes time and increases traffic. In case of Blockchain, it will go directly to the recipient. If it goes directly then there can be no latency. You can stream the content online and mix editing online according to my behavior. The way of protection of content will be changed.
Will this help startups?
Old companies are often very slow in adapting new technologies. There is a big chance for new emerging markets for start-ups.
Is this blockchain expensive?
It will cut a lot of cost. It needs lot of energy. Of course you need data mining centres and that will cost you but because it will cut a lot of costs it will be a win-win for all.
Will it help if five-six independent people come together, pool their content and distribute it in a big way?
They can join together to promote the content, they don’t need to create a platform.
Can we live without Google, Amazon or YouTube?
Blockchain will disrupt the search engines also. That’s why Google is now being transformed to Alphabet. Alphabet is Artificial Intelligence. We still have Google but it understands the future.
Also, that’s why Netflix focuses on content. The platform is a third party and a third party has no future.
What kind of media sectors can benefit and make money out of it?
You can make money in many ways. If you have data then you can barter it with other things. Blockchain will allow this to happen. Let’s say if I need fruit from India, you can give me fruit and I can give you my music. Money is something just to be equal to exchange.
Will Blockchain kill piracy?
Yes of course, because now you will have one master tape which cannot be hacked. It is almost impossible to hack Blockchain.
How did you get into the world of Blockchain?
I am from music, media and entertainment industry. Blockchain started as a peer to peer project in 1999. The first peer to peer project was Kazaa. I know the founders of Kazaa and I tried to find more about this technology because I was very angry about piracy. But it was not piracy, it was a peer to peer sharing. Later, the US government shut down Kazaa.
How has Blockchain shaped in Russia?
We have started it. A lot of it is used in payment transaction. But then we are waiting for 5G network. Remember in 1994 it was impossible to download MP3. In 1996 to download one MP3 file you needed one night. Now it is instant. In the same way, Blockchain needs more bandwidth. We are waiting for 5G and by the time 6G is introduced it will be bigger.