As several filmmakers announced their decision to go straight to streaming services to release their films during lockdown, some exhibitors have expressed their disappointment in the matter. The Producers Guild of India (PGI) has sent out a statement in response, saying "it is disappointing to see abrasive and unconstructive messaging from some of our colleagues in the exhibition sector."
"Statements that call for 'retributive measures' against producers who decide to take their movies direct to OTT platforms - especially at a time when cinemas are unfortunately closed for the foreseeable future - do not lend themselves to a constructive or collaborative dialogue on the way forward for the industry," the PGI said.
Multiplex chain INOX had released a statement on Thursday expressing "extreme displeasure and disappointment" over the film Gulabo Sitabo releasing on OTT. Without naming the production house or the film, the theatre chain said such a move was "disconcerting".
Kamal Gianchandani, CEO of PVR Pictures, had told Huffpost India, "We are disappointed with Gulabo Sitabo's decision to go straight to a streaming platform. We were hoping that the producers would accede to our request to hold back their film's release till cinemas reopened."
The PGI has listed the reasons why some producers were forced to consider the digital option at a time when it is uncertain when movie theatres will resume operations. Here are some of the points:
* The production sector (just like the exhibition sector) is suffering hundreds of crores of losses on a daily basis. Elaborate and expensive sets erected for under-production films have had to be taken down due to no date in sight for shoots to resume, with the sunk cost of the set and studio rentals to be borne completely by producers - as insurers refuse to cover the cost.
* Shoot schedules have had to be abruptly cancelled due to the lockdown, with huge cancellation charges being
borne completely by the producer - again with no support from insurers.
* Re-opening of cinemas is bound to be staggered across the country, with each State government rightly making its own decision on the appropriate time to re-open cinemas in their State, depending on the intensity of the outbreak there. Producers of Hindi movies will have to wait for cinemas across the entire country to re-open, as the economics of the
business require an All India release. For cinemas to be open across the entire country, it is clear we are sometime away.
"The production fraternity would like to work collaboratively with the exhibition sector to ensure that once cinemas do re-open across the country, we do all we can to bring audiences back in large numbers to experience our movies in the way they were always meant to be enjoyed - at the theatres," the statement concluded.
Here's the full statement:
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