Several representatives from TFCC came together for a press meet to convey their displeasure against the direct-to-OTT trend
Earlier in 2021, months before the onset of the second wave of COVID-19, the Telugu film industry bounced back to action like no other fraternity across the country. Crowds flocked to theatres like there's no tomorrow, new films commenced at a record pace, producers were on a release-date announcement spree and several films hit the bullseye at the box office despite the 50% seating regulation in theatres. Krack, Red, Uppena, Naandhi, Jathi Ratnalu, Vakeel Saab proved to be major successes and shut many wagging tongues who predicted the end of the theatrical business in the post-COVID era.
Come this July, when the governments of both Telugu states have given a nod to reopen theatres after lifting lockdown restrictions, prominent producers including Suresh Babu, Allu Aravind are still preferring to release films on OTT. Maestro, Drishyam 2, Narappa, Gully Rowdy, 18 Pages, Crrush and Most Eligible Bachelors are among the ever-growing list of films that have more or less confirmed a direct digital release. On the flip side, distributors are crying foul that despite theatres getting ready to reopen, notable names in the industry aren't going forward to confirm their theatrical releases.
Expressing their anguish about producers not backing distributors in a precarious hour like this, the Telangana Film Chamber of Commerce organised a press meet earlier today."The biggest producers today have been making money through theatrical revenues for over six decades now and it's very opportunistic that they are not considering the well-being of distributors at a time they need support more than ever before. We understand that producers are in a fix under current circumstances, but audiences have time and again proved that theatres are here to stay. All that we currently ask is to stop selling their films (regardless of big or small) to OTT, at least till October 31," TFCC issued a joint statement.
"How long will the audiences lock themselves amid four walls? Where else will people from Telugu states go for entertainment or de-stressing themselves? Mutual trust is something that producers and distributors must swear by, for the industry to last long. The 1800 theatres in AP and Telangana aren't going anywhere. We can even assure producers that they'll make more money in theatres than in OTTs. This is an unprecedented situation for everyone and we must fight this together. Those names signing for OTT deals must look at the larger interests of the industry than immediate gains. If this request is not met, we have to take hard decisions in the future," a representative concurred.
All that it took was a success like Ravi Teja's Krack to get back audiences to theatres after the first wave of COVID-19 and yet again, the Telugu industry needs big names who'll take the best foot forward and show some spine to release films theatrically. However, it remains to be seen if Telugu producers consider this request seriously. Sekhar Kammula's Love Story, Kiran Abbavaram-starrer SR Kalyana Mandapam, Paagal and Tuck Jagadish are among the first bunch of films that may announce their release dates soon.