Disney+ Hotstar to premiere Bollywood films, bypassing theatres – Reuters UK

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Walt Disney Cos streaming service Disney+ Hotstar prepares to premiere seven big ticket Bollywood films initially indicated for theatrical release this year, as it seeks to broaden its lead in customers over rivals Netflix and Amazons Prime Video.
Mondays announcement follows similar relocations in India by Netflix and Prime and deals a fresh blow to movie theatre operators like PVR and Inox Leisure, which have seen a raft of most likely ticket office strikes choose digital releases due to theatre shutdowns in the COVID-19 pandemic.
” This is something that weve been considering for a long time. The pandemic offered this chance due to the fact that a number of films that are prepared or about to be all set do not have any clarity on when they can be launched,” stated Uday Shankar, who heads Disneys operations in India.
India has relieved constraints around its more than two-month long nationwide lockdown, but shopping centers, theatres and multiplexes mostly stay shut.
Streaming platforms like Amazon and Netflix have in the past signed deals with Indian studios for digital rights, but mainstream releases have actually prioritised theatrical earnings in the past.
Shankar stated direct-to-digital releases were constantly on the horizon, due to a lack film screens and minimal release windows in India, but the lockdown had actually sped up the concept of releasing films digitally.
Hotstar reported 300 million month-to-month active users in 2015. Many use the totally free, advertising-supported service, however Disney has stated it aims to convert much of these users into paying customers.
Disney got Hotstar through its $71 billion purchase of Twenty-First Century Foxs film and tv possessions in 2019. It rebranded the service as Disney+ Hotstar in April.
Hotstar stated the very first release, a Bollywood remake of the Hollywood struck “The Fault in Our Stars”, will be released on July 24 this year.
Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Euan Rocha and Mark Potter

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