OTT platform Prime Video will see a lot of upcoming content in local languages, especially 4 Tamil movies premiering directly on the OTT platform, Vijay Subramaniam, Director and Head, Content, Amazon Prime Video India, said in a joint interview with Apoorva Mehta, CEO & Producer – Dharma Productions.
Subramaniam told BusinessLine that the latest trend of movies releasing directly to OTT has made the metrics of success for a movie more holistic, away from the first weekend collections and blockbuster success.
The war movie Shershaah, which was earlier slated for release in theatres, had to be released directly to OTT due to the ongoing pandemic. Despite these hurdles, the Siddhant Malhotra-starred war flick was met with resounding success.
Already hailed as the most-watched Indian movie on Prime Video till date, Amazon’s Subramaniam believes that such direct to OTT releases are changing the definition of success of a movie for the better.
“To the point of measuring the success of films, the box office performance is really the first milestone in a film’s journey. India has only 9,500 screens for 1.3 billion people, which is one of the lowest densities of screens per million amongst major movie markets. And surprising for a country that loves its cinema and annually produces over 2,000 films. Of this, most big films see a viewership of at the most 2-3 per cent of the population in theatres.” Subramaniam explained.
He continued that before the pandemic, the success of a movie was heavily indexed on how it performed in the box office. These numbers provided a quick view of success over opening weekends but wasn’t intended to be a comprehensive view of the other indices that keeps the film on its journey of success. For Subramaniam, this is a good moment for the industry to redefine how they think of the success of the movie outside the box office.
The theatrical distribution also had challenges – movies from the south of India find it challenging to get distribution in the North and vice versa. According to Subramaniam, a key parameter for Amazon to view success for any piece of content is to understand how the content travelled outside its core consumer cohort or origin community.
Wider consumer base
With world premieres directly releasing on Prime Video, movies across languages release simultaneously in 240+ countries and territories, theatrically they would release in 18-20 countries. This means films are increasingly getting access to a much wider consumer base. Subramaniam said that Amazon has 50 per cent viewership for local language movies (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada) coming from outside home states and a 15-20 per cent viewership of local language movies coming from outside the country.
Subramaniam also said that a lot of local language content will be seen coming to Amazon’s content library. Their recent collaboration with 2D Entertainment will result in the next four Tamil movies from 2D premiering directly on Prime Video worldwide, over the next 4 months.
As a result of the pandemic, production houses like Dharma also had to bow to the OTT effect of directly releasing films for streaming. A key drawback for the same is that the monetary performance of the film cannot be contingent on its box office draw in such a situation. Dharma’s Mehta clearly stated that a box office release will be the preferred method of release for many of their big-ticket, theatre focus projects.
“We too are eager to release our movies in theatres, however, at this point, with the possibility of a third wave looming over us and theatres in Maharashtra still being shut it is difficult to say when would we be ready to release films wholly in theatres,” Mehta said.