“Films that don’t get a wide release can be streamed.” Just a year ago, this sentence was said with contempt. Today, content creators can’t help but rub their hands with glee when they say this. And that’s because the behemoths like Netflix, Amazon and in India, Zee5, Hotstar and ALTBalaji have become home for films and content that don’t want to get into the distributor rigmarole.
When it first started, this was true for small budget films. For example, ErosNow released Meri Nimmo on their online platform. That film was in production for a while and was looking for a wide release. However, the straight-from-the-heart story would have found it difficult to find audiences in theatres. Eros Now launched that film on their platform, adding to their inventory of films.
Also Read | Eros Now Original Meri Nimmo, Review
While there have been smaller budget films getting their day of glory on the streaming platforms, the biggest brands are now looking at Netflix to get films off their hands – like Warner Bros selling off their version of Mowgli – Legend of the Jungle.
Termed as a 11th minute sale, the Andy Serkis directorial was in deep waters for a long while. Initially, the film was postponed when Disney launched their version of the Mowgli trope that had a worldwide garner of about a billion. Warner Bros developed cold feet and didn’t release their version of it, fearing audience exhaustion.
That’s weird, because the trailer shows that the story of the Andy Serkis film is strikingly different from the origin story told. Something that happened with The Legend of Tarzan, a film that didn’t speak about Tarzan’s backstory at all but instead took the story ahead.
But its not like only big budget films are going the streaming way. Danish Tanovic’s film, Tigers, which stars Emraan Hashmi as a salesman who turns whistle-blower on baby feed mix killing babies will soon stream on Zee5. Danish Tanovic’s film has been screened at the film festivals but it hasn’t yet got a wide release. With Zee5 picking the film before a wide release, there’s proof that Indian content streaming platforms are also warming up to the idea of acquiring content and then streaming it – before the theatres.
This is good news for content creators. Recently, the well-known director, Q had his film, Gandu stream on the streaming platforms. Quashiq Mukherjee, the director of the 2010 film is well known in indie film circles.
Its interesting to see that only one of these films didn’t have a mainstream release because of problematic content. Gandu had always been wading in controversial waters. With the current censor board scenario, several of the scenes in Gandu would have required some excessive snipping. Thanks to Netflix, audiences can see the director’s vision in its entirety.
There’s been this talk about a censor board for the Indian streaming content. While the logistics would require a minor brainwave, it is interesting to comprehend whether streaming channels would still pay money for the rights to stream a Gandu, much less a Mowgli – Legend of the Jungle.
Streaming channels are becoming primary platform for films that didn’t make their way to the theatres. If this trend doesn’t change, streaming platforms can create a problem for the theatre model – changing long running ideas that both streaming platforms and the theatre model are part of a modern media eco-system. But like everything else, it’s the audience that will decide what will survive and what won’t. Over to the audience.