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This article is written by Niharika Chavan who is pursuing a Diploma in Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Laws from LawSikho.

During this coronavirus outbreak, everyone is missing going to the cinema halls, aren’t they? There is uncertainty around the reopening of theatres, which are shut down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Don’t worry, Netflix, Amazon Prime & Disney+ Hotstar have come to the rescue! Many Film-Makers are headed for a direct-to-digital release rather than the conventional theatrical release due to the pandemic. The digital release of the latest blockbuster movies is a blessing to mankind during these COVID-19 times. It will make us miss the movie theatres a bit less while being in the comfort of our home.

According to estimates, Amazon Prime has 10 million subscribers in India; Netflix has 2.5 Million subscribers in India; Disney+ Hotstar has 8 million subscribers in India.

Firstly, let us have a look at the Major Contracts that are involved in releasing and exploiting a movie digitally.

The Exploitation Agreements are majorly divided into 2 (two) types:

  • Theatrical Exploitation Agreement

This Agreement is further divided into ‘Domestic Theatrical Distribution Agreement’ and ‘Overseas Theatrical Distribution Agreement’. These agreements are entered into when the producers want to release movies in theatres in their home country and/or overseas countries.

  • Non-Theatrical Exploitation Agreement 

This Agreement is further divided into ‘Satellite Distribution Agreement’ which is used to exploit the rights in a film through satellite means like TV, DTH, Cable etc; and Digital Distribution Agreement which is the major contract involved in releasing a movie through digital platforms like Streaming platform (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+Hotstar), internet downloads etc. This is the Agreement through which the following movies have been released OTT platforms.

  • GULABO SITABO

It was the first mainstream Bollywood movie to be released exclusively on an OTT platform. Gulabo Sitabo starred by Amitabh Bacchan & Ayushmann Khurana, directed by a critically acclaimed director-Shoojit Sircar is based on the story of Fatima Mahal which is at the centre of a long feud between its owner’s husband Mirza (Amitabh Bachchan) and their stubborn tenant Baankey Rastogi (Ayushmann Khurrana). It was released on Amazon Prime Video on 12th June 2020. Amazon Prime has released the film in 15 languages in 200 countries. It was made with a budget of Rs 40 crore to Rs 45 crore. Amazon Prime bought the streaming rights for 65 crores, helping the producers make over Rs 20 crore

Earned: ₹65 crore

  • DIL BECHARA

Sushant Singh Rajput and Sanjana Sanghi starrer Dil Bechara is the Hindi adaptation of American author John Green’s 2012 novel ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ in which both the lead actors encompass roles of grading terminal cancer patients. It is produced by Fox Star Studios and directed by Mukesh Chhabra in his directorial debut. The Budget of the movie was around 25-30 Crores. It was released on Disney+Hotstar on 24th July 2020. Dil Bechara is the official last movie release of Sushant Singh Rajput. 

Earned: ₹40 crore

  • SHAKUNTALA DEVI

Starring Vidya Balan in the eponymous role,  Shakuntala Devi had premiered on Amazon Prime Video on 31st July 2020. It is the biopic of the famed ‘human-computer’ that has been produced by Vikram Malhotra and directed by Anu Menon. Alongside Vidya Balan, the film also stars Sanya Malhotra, Amit Sadh and Jisshu Senguptawe gathered that the movie follows the professional achievements of the famed mathematician. 

Earned: ₹40 crore

  • Khuda Haafiz

Khuda Haafiz is a romantic-action thriller film that was released on Disney+Hotstar on 14th August 2020. It is written and directed by Faruk Kabir and produced by Kumar Mangat Pathak and Abhishek Pathak (Panorama Studios International). The starcast includes Vidyut Jammwal and Shivaleeka Oberoi in the lead roles, along with Annu Kapoor, Aahana Kumra and Shiv Panditt in supporting roles. The film is inspired by true events and follows Sameer Chaudhary, a young man who races against time to rescue his kidnapped wife Nargis from flesh traders.

Earned: ₹20 crore

  • GUNJAN SAXENA: The Kargil Girl

Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl starred by Janhvi Kapoor was released on 12th August 2020 on Netflix. The film is produced by Karan Johar under his banner of Dharma Productions and Zee Studios and is directed by newcomer Sharan Sharma. The main starcast of the movie is Janhvi Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi and Angad Bedi. Janhvi Kapoor Plays the role of IAF pilot Gunjan Saxena, the first female and Indian woman airforce pilot in combat along with Srividya Rajan. The movie was made on the budget of approx 30 crores, the makers have recovered the price by direct OTT rights, music rights, and television rights. The direct OTT release rights sold to Netflix for approx 40 Crores, Music rights were sold for approx 5-7 crores and television rights sold to Zee, the sister company of Zee Studios for approx 10 Crores, the total recovery is about 60 crores from all these.

Earned: ₹60 crore

  • CLASS OF ‘83

Class of ’83  is an action crime drama film is produced by Red Chillies Entertainment (owned by Shahrukh and Gauri Khan). Starring Bobby Deol in the lead, Class of ’83 is directed by Atul Sabharwal, written by Abhijeet Deshpande. The film is based on the book “The Class of 83” authored by leading crime journalist Hussain Zaidi, which is set in Bombay in the 1980s when the underworld’s stranglehold on the city was becoming hard to break. It tells the story of a hero policeman shunted to a punishment posting as the dean of the police academy and how he and his officers shrewdly planned and executed hits while staying within the system and following all necessary protocol. The film premiered on 21 August 2020 on Netflix.

Earned: ₹15 Crore

  • SADAK 2

The movie was released on August 28, 2020, on Disney+Hotstar. This film is the sequel to Mahesh Bhatt’s “Sadak” that came out 29 years ago. The film is directed by Mahesh Bhatt and marks his return as a director after 20 years. It’s also Produced by Mukesh Bhatt under their banner Vishesh Films. Along with Sanjay Dutt and Pooja Bhatt, the director also has added Alia Bhatt and Aditya Roy Kapur to the mix. Alia & Aditya will be the ones playing the central characters, whereas Dutt will unfold a complicated action plot that includes a powerful religious mafia. Initially, the film had been getting a lot of hatred due to Mahesh Bhatt’s involvement in the Sushant Singh Rajput case.

Earned:  ₹70 crore

  • Laxmmi

Laxmmi is an upcoming horror-comedy movie which is said to be the most expensive among all the movies on Disney+ Hotstar releasing digitally. It is written and directed by Raghava Lawrence which marks his Hindi directorial debut. It is a remake of the Tamil movie “Muni 2: Kanchana” which revolves around a man possessed by the ghost of a transgender person. The movie stars Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani in the lead roles and is set to release on 9th November 2020 on Disney+ Hotstar.

Earned: ₹125 crore

  • BHUJ 

Bhuj: The Pride of India is an upcoming war-action film based on the true story of Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Squadron Leader Vijay Karnik. It is set during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, when Karnik, the then in-charge of the Bhuj airbase in Gujarat and Sunderben Jetha Madharparya, the brave social worker who took 299 courageous women along with her from the local village of Madhapar and reconstructed the IAF airbase which played a significant role in India’s victory. Directed, Co-Produced and written by Abhishek Dudhaiya, the film features Ajay Devgn in the lead role as Karnik along with Sonakshi Sinha, Sanjay Dutt, Nora Fatehi, Sharad Kelkar, Ammy Virk and Pranitha Subhash. The film is set to release on Disney+Hotstar. The release date of the movie unknown as of now.

Earned: ₹110 crore

  •  THE BIG BULL

The Big Bull is an upcoming biographical crime film produced by Ajay Devgn Films and Panorama Studios and directed by Kookie Gulati. The movie is based on the real-life story of stockbroker Harshad Mehta. It displays his financial misconduct over a period of 10 years, from 1980 to 1990. It stars Abhishek Bachchan in the lead role along with Illeana D’Cruz in the supporting role. The movie will stream worldwide on Disney+Hotstar. The release date of this movie too is yet unknown.

Earned: ₹40 crore


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