Laxmmi Bomb to Sadak 2: Seven big Bollywood films to premier directly on Disney+ Hotstar’sMultiplex
With cinemas across the country closed to contain the spread of Coronavirus pandemic, a number of big-budget commercial Bollywood films are skipping theatrical release and moving to OTT platforms. At a time when Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have packed their calenders with a number of high-profile Bollywood films and web series, video streaming service Disney+ Hotstar recently announced the acquisition and release of seven big-budget Bollywood films in an estimated 400-crore deal.
Through a virtual conference, Bollywood celebrities such as Akshay Kumar, Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn among others announced the release of their films on the Walt Disney-owned streaming service over the next few months. These films include Akshay Kumar-starrer ‘Laxmmi Bomb’, Alia Bhatt-starrer ‘Sadak 2’, Ajay Devgn’s ‘Bhuj: The Pride of India’, and Abhishek Bachchan’s crime drama ‘The Big Bull’.
Besides these, Disney will also premiere romantic action thriller ‘KhudaHaafiz’ headlined by Vidyut Jammwal, and comedy thriller ‘Lootcase’ starring Kunal Kemmu. All these films will be reportedly releasing on Disney+ Hotstar between July and October. All these films will be launched on “Multiplex” – a new tab within the app – starting from July 24.
Prior to this announcement, the video on demand platform had already announced the release of romantic drama ‘Dil Bechara’, the last film of late Sushant Singh Rajput. The film will be out on July 24 and will be available free to viewers as a tribute to the actor.
Releasing a press statement over the development, Uday Shankar, President, The Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman, Star & Disney India, asserted that while theatre will remain a special experience, the potential of the film industry cannot be capped on theatres or window releases.
“Theatres are a special experience. So, they will always exist and thrive. But the potential of the industry can’t be capped by the number of release windows and theatres available. Our initiative will dramatically increase the number of films that can be made, giving film-lovers more films to enjoy and the creative community more films to make.”
With Disney rebranding Star network’s video streaming service Hotstar to Disney+ Hotstar earlier this year, this move will potentially benefit the company while competing with popular platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
In the wake of pandemic lockdown, consumer demand as over the top (OTT) viewership has spiked manifold in the past three months. Disney+ Hotstar’s announcement has come in close competition with Amazon and Netflix after big films such as ‘GulaboSitabo’ and ‘Gunjan Saxena-The Kargil Girl’ move directly to these platforms respectively for mega release.
Interestingly, a day after Disney+ Hotstar made the massive announcement, film exhibitors revealed that highly-anticipated Bollywood projects such as Akshay Kumar-starrer Sooryavanshi and Ranveer Singh-led 83 will be releasing in the theatres post-Diwali. Expressing disappointment with big-budget films moving to OTT platforms, PVR Cinemas, Inox, and Carnival Cinemas announced the theatrical releases of these films with cinema halls gearing up to reopen after months of shutdown in the aftermath of Coronavirus outbreak.