Amazon secured the premiere rights to seven Indian films originally scheduled for theatrical release directly on its Prime Video on-demand streaming service, which prompted two major movie channels to express their “extreme dissatisfaction” and their “disappointment”.
The e-commerce giant, who is said to be in talks to buy the theater chain AMC, announced Friday that it would release these films, including “Gulabo Sitabo” with Indian legend Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana, and “Shakuntala Devi” with Vidya. Balan as leader, over the next three months from May.
Prime Video subscribers will not have to pay additional fees to access these films, which cover five Indian languages, the company said. Other “highly anticipated” titles are the Tamil drama “Ponmagal Vandhal”, “Penguin” (Tamil and Telugu), “Law” (Kannada), “French Biryani” (Kannada) and “Sufiyum Sujatayum” (Malayalam).
The move comes as India maintains a national lockdown that has closed more than 9,500 theaters and other public places.
PVR and INOX, two large theater chains in India which together manage around 1,500 screens in the country, express their alarm and concern about this decision.
“Such acts, although isolated, vitiate the atmosphere of mutual partnership and portray these content producers as friends of the heyday rather than as lifelong partners in all weathers. Needless to say, INOX will be forced to consider its options and reserve all rights, including punitive measures, to deal with such friends in good weather, “said INOX in a statement.
Amazon, which started selling movie tickets in India last year, tried to challenge, in INOX terms, “an old windowing scheme.” Over the past year and a half, the shopping giant has made deals with movie studios to narrow the window of a film’s debut on a streaming service to a few weeks, down from two to three months in India.
INOX and PVR are not alone. Last month, AMC Cinemas have said it will no longer screen films made by Universal Pictures, which released “Trolls World Tour” directly via streaming.
Amazon, which bundles Prime Video into its $ 13-a-year Prime subscription plan in India, said it is providing these films with a platform that reaches 4,000 cities and towns in more than 200 countries and territories. The company has not disclosed the number of Prime Video subscribers it has amassed in India or elsewhere. Amazon Prime Video competes with Hotstar, Disney’s Netflix and more than three dozen other services in India.
Gaurav Gandhi, country director and general manager of Amazon Prime Video India, said in a statement that “Indian audiences are eagerly awaiting the release of these 7 highly anticipated films and we are delighted that Amazon Prime Video is now broadcasting these films.” for our customers – who can enjoy watching it in the security and comfort of their home and on a screen of their choice. “
It seems that Amazon did not have to spend a ton to acquire rights to these titles. In an interview with Huffington Post India, Ronnie Lahiri, co-producer of “Gulabo Sitabo”, said “it was not like we were getting crazy money from Amazon”, although he described the deal as “Win-win”.
“We are faced with a unique phenomenon in life, unprecedented since the Second World War. These are the times when things change. At the beginning, people have apprehensions but you have to adapt. This is how human civilizations flourished. As soon as we stop adapting, we are done. Instead of waiting for the situation to improve, you tackle it with other alternatives, “he said.