• Mon. Feb 26th, 2024
Cinema theaters in Kerala will remain closed for 2 days from tomorrow in protest against early OTT releases

Film Exhibitors United Organization of Kerala (FEUOK) on behalf of theater owners decided to shut down cinema theaters for two consecutive days on June 7 and 8 in response to filmmakers’ decision to release their films early on OTT platforms. .

According to reports, the makers of a Malayalam film can only get permission to release it on OTT platforms after a gap of 42 days from its initial theatrical release. However, FEUOK claims that some filmmakers are ignoring the agreed terms and trying to release their films early. The protest is being organized as an expression of their displeasure against this.

According to FEUOK president K Vijayakumar, the main reason for the decline in theater attendance is the perception by viewers that they can easily access movies on their personal devices within a few days of release. He opined that this will seriously affect the overall business of cinema halls.

“Due to our firm stance, audiences got the chance to see Marakaar: Lion of the Arabian Sea in theatres. While Marakaar had its online premiere 15 days after its theatrical release, we didn’t allow any other film to follow before the 30 days were complete. Some have made efforts to introduce simultaneous theatrical and online releases. They are associated with an international lobby and receive support from influential producers and stars. However, we resisted the move, which forced them to abandon their plans,” Vijayakumar said while talking to the media in Kochi on Tuesday.

“Earlier, there was a provision for films to opt for OTT releases after 32 days of theatrical release. However, this law was found to be unworkable and had to be revised. The revised period is set at 42 days. However, there were exceptions for some of Jude Antony Joseph’s 2018 films – all of which had a hero sign an OTT deal before May 31. “Going forward, if any film goes ahead with its online premiere before the 42-day mark of theatrical release, we will no longer cooperate with the makers of the film and refuse to screen their films in our establishments,” added Vijayakumar.

Vijayakumar strongly criticized the actors who own the production houses, accusing them of approving them and being driven by greed. “Indulging in such behavior is ungrateful. As these actors have taken on the role of producers, they have actively endorsed the practice of releasing their films on OTT platforms immediately after the theatrical release. They are fully responsible for the collapse of the business.

He added that FEUOK has given a 20-day ultimatum to the concerned film associations to address their demands. Vijayakumar said, “The current strike has been announced as a warning. If our demands are not accepted within 20 days, we will start an indefinite strike, resulting in complete closure of our cinema halls.

Also, FEUOK has decided to extend the restrictions by implementing a 90-day limit during which OTT releases will not be allowed for films. He said that the makers have been given three months to prepare. After that, no film will be allowed to premiere online until 90 days after its theatrical release. We will terminate our relationship with manufacturers who violate these terms. He also clarified that FEUOK is not opposed to films opting for direct OTT releases, adding, “We have no problems if directors inform us in advance. It doesn’t matter which actor is involved or who is producing. They can directly go ahead with OTT releases. However, we will not allow the filmmakers to cheat us and the audience.

However, the FEUOK chief said that not all producers follow this practice. “It’s done by one or two manufacturers and their backers.” When questioned about the government’s non-interference in the situation that adversely affects the entertainment tax due to the government, Vijayakumar responded, “No doubt, it affects the government too, but they were not aware of the issue till recently. Producers Association. However, I believe the government has now recognized the problem. We have already engaged in discussions with the Minister concerned and presented data and other reports. The minister has assured that the issue will be resolved and will be vigorously argued.

2018 director Jude Antony Joseph wrote on Facebook about the cine hall owners’ protest call: “I have respect for the theater owners’ protest. I follow the practice of making sure my producers are safe (financially) before the release of my film. That’s why Sony saw it as God’s blessing when approached with a deal. This was not done on purpose. It’s part of business. I thank Sony Liv for believing in our film before its release and thank you all for loving our film. Theater owners and audiences you are the real heroes❤️😍.

The association had announced last month that it was considering refraining from screening low-quality films. “If a filmmaker who has been denied permission by the theaters wants to screen their film in the theaters, they will have to pay the screening fee to the theater owners,” the association clarified.

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