Bollywood rights issue: Mobile phones take precedence over small screen

18 . Sep . 2017
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The celebrated secret service agent, James Bond is up for grabs, at least digitally. Apple and Amazon Prime Video are vying to get this celebrated franchise for streaming.

Following suit is Hindi cinema. The recently released Daddy starring Arjun Rampal as Arun Gawli is in talks with Amazon Prime Video to sell its digital rights for an estimated amount of 12 crores, sources tell us.

This phenomenon is not related only to already-released films. Bollywood’s most awaited release, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Padmavati – which stars Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor – has sold its digital rights to Amazon Prime Video for a rumored amount of Rs 20-25 crores. There is, interestingly, no word about the sale of its satellite rights.

The digital rights race is catching up pretty fast. Sources reveal that Sara Ali Khan’s debut film Kedarnath that also stars Sushant Singh Rajput is looking to sell its digital rights. Interestingly, it is co-produced by Ekta Kapoor, who owns the digital platform AltBalaji. Currently, the OTT streams films produced by Balaji Motion Pictures that released in 2014 and prior.

It may make sense to sell films digitally when young actors are involved – to make sure that production costs are recovered, in case the film bombs at the box office. But the lure of streaming has caught the eye of the Bollywood biggies too.

Salman Khan’s home production, Salman Khan Ventures, has tied up with Amazon to stream his upcoming films. The rights were sold at Rs 65 crores per film – which was definitely pricey for Salman’s dud Tubelight.

When Amazon Prime Video launched in India, Netflix tied-up with Salman’s arch-rival Shah Rukh Khan to stream all Red Chilies films. And later, it also added the entire catalogue from added Aamir Khan Productions.

Dharma Productions’ Karan Johar tied up with Amazon Prime Video and YuppFlix – an on-demand movie streaming platform by YuppTV. Following suit was S.S. Rajamouli’s war epics Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion selling the rights for a deal worth at $4 million approximately.

Such is the digital appeal that Superstar Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar starrer 2.0 is looking to sell its digital rights to either Amazon Prime Video or Netflix. The film will be released simultaneously in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

The movie production and distribution giant, Eros International also wants to earn some moolah from digital rights albeit in a different way. It is in talks for Apple to sell its film and music content library for a whopping $1 billion. If this materializes, Apple will be sitting on a gold mine – Eros India produces 60 films a year, many among them enter the top-grossing list.

Joining this digital bandwagon are mobile phone companies. These tie-ups include Vodafone-HOOQ and Airtel-Wynk Movies. Idea came up with Idea Movie Club, while Reliance Jio has Jio Cinema App.

Between writing and putting this article up, many more such deals will be signed and TheDigitalHash will be on cloud nine. This, in a way, will mean that the digital content we consume will also witness a great deal of upheaval.

Here’s to digital content and streaming. Cheers!!!

P.S.: Digital medium has become so big that it has created a new job title Chief Digital Officer.