23 JUL 2020

NETFLIX AND AMAZON ADD INDIAN FILMS THAT WOULD’VE OTHERWISE DEBUTED IN THEATERS

The platforms invest billions into building local content, while keeping India prices low to global viewers. Netflix intends to spend 30 billion rupees ($400 million) in 2019 and 2020

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Netflix announced its decision to add six new Indian films that would have otherwise been released in theaters, while Disney has at least seven movies in queue. The platforms, among others, are planning to invest billions into building local content, while keeping India prices low to international viewers. 

In December, Netflix’s Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said that Netflix intends to spend 30 billion rupees ($400 million) over 2019 and 2020 to produce more local content. The international firms don’t offer much detail on the increasing subscription figures in India. Amazon now offers a wide variety of popular Bollywood films for its Prime shopping service.

India creates and sells more films than any other region worldwide, making it valuable for streaming giants like Netflix, Disney, and Amazon. The country’s mainstream film industry has long resisted online shifts. The pandemic is the cause for spikes in the region, and most others in the world due to stay-at-home restrictions. “There is a school of thought that cinemas are anachronistic and as entertainment gets more individual and sachet-sized, they will fade,” said Utkarsh Sinha, Managing Director of Bexley Advisors, a boutique investment bank focused on early-stage deals in tech and media. “If that school of thought is right, this pandemic could certainly be the point of inflection.”

An example of the concept is Bollywood film, “Gulabo Sitabo,” starring Amitabh Bachchan, which debuted on Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime streaming service during the pandemic. Though online onslaught has further expanded, India’s cinema industry plans more releases in the future.  “We have got a lot of assurance from our producer friends that they all believe in the power of a theatrical exhibition,” Alok Tandon, chief executive officer of Indian theater operator Inox Leisure Ltd., told investors on a conference call last month.

 

 

There is a school of thought that cinemas are anachronistic and as entertainment gets more individual and sachet-sized, they will fade.” Utkarsh Sinha Managing Director, Bexely Advisors