Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi will stream on Netflix on 26 April, two months after its theatrical release. The Alia Bhatt-starrer had made close to Rs. 130 crore at the box office.
To be sure, Gangubai Kathiawadi is one of the rare films in recent times to have stuck to the eight-week window between theatrical and OTT release. The covid-19 pandemic saw several films bypass the theatrical medium to release directly on streaming platforms as cinemas remained shut indefinitely. The period immediately after reopening too has been fraught with worry and uncertainty with most producers insisting on premiering their films digitally within four weeks so as to strike better deals with OTT platforms that would help them offset the losses or reduced profits from theatres, which in many states are still operating with capped occupancies and curfews.
Before the third covid wave, trade experts had said that the impressive box office collections of Diwali releases and the dip in covid-19 cases could lead to smooth theatrical operations over the next few months with Bollywood returning to the original six to eight-week window it used to follow for OTT (over-the-top) launch of its films before the pandemic, by March or April. The same has been deferred for now. However, while studios like Yash Raj Films have already signed such deals for big-ticket films starring Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan scheduled for the second half of next year, theatres are confident others will follow once this period of uncertainty on return of audiences, ends.
As the theatrical ecosystem restarts, it is crucial to understand that both exhibitors and producers, are stressed financially and have suffered losses which are not just monetary but also in terms of opportunity costs and delayed timelines for multiple projects, according to trade experts.