Not OTT-first, Kangana Ranaut’s Thalaivi will wait for theatrical release

As cinemas remain closed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, several movies including Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer Gulabo Sitabo, Vidya Balan’s Shakuntala Devi and Janhvi Kapoor-starrer Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl have lined up for a digital release, ditching the traditional route of a theatrical opening. Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s comedy film Ghoomketu is also going straight to OTT. Amid reports of several other films releasing straight on OTT platforms, it turns out the Kangana Ranaut-starrer Thalaivi won’t ditch traditional theatrical release.

Terming all news reports claiming as a false, film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh clarified on Twitter that Thalaivi will get a theatrical release first. Putting an end to speculations of the online release of the film which is the biopic of the political stalwart J Jayalalithaa, he tweeted, “IMPORTANT… News that #Thalaivi – #Jayalalithaa biopic – will premiere on #OTT is FALSE… Will release in theatres first… Digital release to follow *after* theatrical release… #Thalaivi stars #KanganaRanaut.”

News articles stating the film being sold to online video streaming platforms Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have been doing rounds for a couple of days.

Earlier, Kangana Ranaut was quoted saying, when asked about her opinion on the direct-to-OTT trend, “It depends. For example, a film like ‘Thalaivi’ just can’t release on digital because it is such a massive scale film, neither a movie like ‘Manikarnika’ is a digital space film. But yes, films like ‘Panga’, ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ also cater to that audience. The way the film is made, it is very digital-friendly. They have recovered huge costs through digital itself. So, it depends.”

Also Read: Kangana Ranaut on her weight gain for Thalaivi: I never remember feeling so unfit

‘Thalaivi’ is being helmed by AL Vijay and has been written by ‘Baahubali’ and ‘Manikarnika’ writer KV Vijayendra Prasad and ‘The Dirty Picture’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbai’ writer Rajat Arora. The movie was scheduled to hit theatres on June 26, 2020, but would not be able to see the light of the day owing to the shuttering of movie halls due to coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Direct-to-OTT release

Unconfirmed reports indicate Akshay Kumar’s Laxmmi Bomb, Anurag Basu’s Ludo, Sidharth Malhotra’s Shershaah, Kiara Advani’s Indoo Ki Jawaani, Ishaan Khatter and Ananya Panday’s Khaali Peeli and Janhvi’s Roohi Afzana could also take the OTT path, with others movies also expected to join the growing list.

Direct-to-OTT could become an increasing reality in the near future, but most in the industry feel there is no threat to the big screens. Instead, it’s the dawn of a new era where both patterns of release will probably find a way to co-exist.

Also Read: Multiplex Association of India and single-screen owners urge government to reopen theatres by June 30

Digital world might be a new reality for many, but not for biggies like Ranveer Singh-starrer 83 and Akshay Kumar-starrer Sooryanvanshi. The makers of these big-ticket Bollywood films have assured cinema owners that they will release the films in theatres first.

Still from 83 and Akshay Kumar from Sooryavanshi
Still from 83 and Akshay Kumar from Sooryavanshi

The COVID-19 pandemic brought along gloomy days for film business and live entertainment gigs with shut down orders, turning out to be financially strenuous for many. That’s why the direct-to-OTT move not only means a push to the digital medium in the Indian market but also a financial respite to many members of the industry.

What about Hollywood?

In Hollywood, many tentpoles were pulled from release because of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent closure of multiplexes. Sony delayed most of its summer slate, including Venom sequel, Morbius and Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Disney postponed Black Widow and Mulan while slated Artemis Fowl for release on Disney+ Hotstar. Warner Bros. reshuffled Wonder Woman 1984 and In The Heights.

Universal halted Minions: The Rise Of Gru and Fast & Furious entry F9, while Paramount moved A Quiet Place Part II and Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick.

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