Post-pandemic, several films, which were meant to release on the big screen, premiered directly on an OTT platform. However, there were several web movies which were meant to arrive on a streaming giant since day 1. Bahut Hua Samman (2020; Disney+ Hotstar), Raat Akeli Hai (2020; Netflix), AK vs AK (2020; Netflix), Pagglait (2021; Netflix), Meenakshi Sundareshwar (2021; Netflix), Kaun Pravin Tambe? (2022; Disney+ Hotstar), Darlings (2022; Netflix), Qala (2022; Netflix), Monica O My Darling (2022; Netflix), Maja Ma (2022; Amazon Prime Video), Kathal (2022; Netflix), Bloody Daddy (2023; Jio Cinema), Tiku Weds Sheru (2023; Amazon Prime Video) etc. are example of such films. Though these films were always meant for the small screens, most of these films were superior, in terms of technicalities and content. Even the promotions grab eyeballs successfully. And the day won’t be far when some of the costliest films of the year might end up premiering straight away on our smartphones or smart TVs.
OTT films rival theatrical releases; the hype for The Archies is as high as that of any big-budget theatrical flick, feel experts: “The excitement level is going to RISE with every passing week”
Trade guru Komal Nahta spoke about this trend, “It’s here to stay. Platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have come with such deep pockets that they can’t just be showing films which have been released in cinemas and which arrive on their platforms after 4 or 8 weeks. Hence, they would like to invest money in original web series or films. And it’s not like they’ll want to back only small films since it’s not released on the big screen. In cinemas, we see small films, big-budget films and super big-budget films. The same applies to these platforms as well. Until now, we have not seen a super big budget product. But I am sure the day is not far when films with budgets of Rs. 100 crores or Rs. 200 crores will be made directly for a streaming platform.”
The trend has already picked up pace in the West. The Irishman (2019; Netflix), for example, was reportedly made on a budget of around $150-160 million. That’s more than the budgets of recent Hollywood big-budget theatrical films like John Wick: Chapter 4 and Expend4bles, which were each made at a cost of $100 approx. Other Netflix films like Extraction 2 and Heart Of Stone each had a budget of around $70 million, which is still quite a high amount.
Trade veteran Taran Adarsh explained that though many of these direct OTT releases have big screen appeal, they are best suited for streaming platforms. He cites the example of Rajkummar Rao-starrer Monica O My Darling, “What a film it was! Perhaps, it would have done well in theatres too. But its chances of doing well on OTT are much higher. I saw Jaane Jaan recently. It was a very well-made film but I felt it was ideal for OTT.”
But there are exceptions, notes Taran Adarsh. He said, “There are certain films that should have come in theatres. For example, Shahid Kapoor’s action film Bloody Daddy. When a big star does a commercial action entertainer, it's well suited (for the big screen).”
Shahid Kapoor addressed this topic at the trailer launch of Bloody Daddy, “A lot of people wanted this film out in cinemas. A lot of theatre exhibitors called and talked to us about it. But we stuck to what we truly, truly envisioned for this film, that is, creating a big screen experience for the OTT platform.”
Trade analyst Atul Mohan opined, “When the makers see the final product and feel it has cinematic value, they should take a chance and release it in cinemas. That way, they can make additional money. And then on OTT, it’ll get a repeat audience, especially if it gets acceptance.”
All eyes on The Archies
The year is going to end on a high with The Archies. Directed by Zoya Akhtar, this retro entertainer will be out on Netflix on December 7. The OTT giant has gone all out by promoting it for more than a year. The teaser trailer of the film was launched on June 18, 2023, at the Tudum 2023 event held in São Paulo, Brazil. It was accompanied by a dance performance by the cast. The performance was noticed worldwide and it considerably added to the hype for The Archies, which also serves as the launch vehicle of star kids Suhana Khan, Khushi Kapoor and Agastya
Nanda among others.
When asked if the awareness and hype for The Archies is as much as any big-screen entertainer, Komal Nahta opined, “Definitely. And they (Netflix) are also going to promote it that way. The excitement level is going to rise with every passing week.”
He agreed that there’s considerable hype for it due to the “casting and association of Zoya Akhtar as director. Of course, that it’s the debut vehicle of Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter Suhana, Agastya, Khushi Kapoor etc. (is also a big factor).”
Taran Adarsh agreed, “A lot of star kids are being launched with The Archies. And Zoya Akhtar is at the helm of things. Hence, I feel it’s one film that will be looked forward to.”
Atul Mohan, however, noted, “The Archies is not a mass film. The comic was more famous among the elite kids of Mumbai, Delhi etc. But thanks to the casting, the film will create buzz.”
He maintained that it’s a film that has a chance in theatres, “It should get a limited targeted release in certain high-end multiplexes in Mumbai and Delhi. Many who read Archies in their childhood and who are in their 40s and 50s will be interested to see it in cinemas.”
More Pages: The Archies Box Office Collection , The Archies Movie Review
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