By Sugandha Rawal
New Delhi, Bollywood producer and entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala doesn’t mince words to censure the practice of selling satellite rights and rights to a digital medium before a film opens in theatres.
He says producers are “killing the industry” by adopting this business model, as it is a big threat to the existence of theatres in India.
“The problem is that a lot of producers have screwed up the windows (of business) and that is the threat. The threat is when some producers decide that ‘I am not sure about the movie so I will pre-sell it. I will sell it to Netflix and it will come on the platform in four weeks and then I will sell it to Star, Zee or Sony and it will come on TV in the next five weeks,” Screwvala told IANS in an interview here.
“I am saying that if you are not sure about the movie, then why make it?” he questioned.
There’s a lot of money involved in making a film, and the trend continues with the makers securing exclusive deals running in crores by selling satellite television rights and partnering with a digital medium.
“This is killing the industry,” Screwvala asserted.
“There are two reasons that you as an audience will go to the theatre. One is when you love the trailer and secondly, word of mouth. The reason you wouldnaAt go to the movie theatre despite liking the trailer is when you know the film will come on some medium in the next three weeks.
“If you feel that the film should be watched on the big screen, then I will go. Otherwise, I will watch it in three weeks. I will be choosy. That window is the single biggest problem happening in the space.
“Hollywood films are doing better in India because they don’t put their movies on any platform for six months. It should be the same with Bollywood.”
Screwvala, the former Disney UTV managing director, is the brain behind RSVP — his motion picture company, co-founder of UpGrad, an ed-tech startup, Swades Foundation and he has also attached his creative vision to UCypher, a multi-platform eSports league.
He has joined hands with global streaming video service Netflix to release his “Love Per Square Foot”, which features Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar.
Talking about the move, he said: “What I have done is that when I want to sell it Netflix, I will keep the window there only. And when I want to go to theatres, then I will opt for that way.”
He said: “People should be straightforward about the fact that ‘I don’t expect you to watch it in theatre, so I am going to the digital medium’.
“The other way is killing everything. Multiplexes won’t be able to grow and we need them. We need to co-exist.”
As a producer, he is backing diverse subjects. “Uri” tells a story of India’s surgical strike on terrorist hubs in Pakistan; then there’s a film set in the world of blind cricket; and a biopic on veteran advocate-politician Ram Jethmalani. He is also co-producing “Salute”, a biopic on India’s first astronaut Rakesh Sharma.
Screwvala says he wants to tell stories that need to be told.
“And stories that with reality and contextuality,” he said, adding that he hopes to create franchises with his projects.