RADHE was supposed to be a game changer with its hybrid release model in these covid times, a kind of first for any major Hindi film. But film disappointed and how! The film received very bad reviews from critics and even worse reactions from audience at large.
The film was a huge buy for the leading platform Zee Group, as its OTT arm Zee5 bought digital streaming rights, ZEE Cinema bagged satellite rights, Zee Music retained music rights and Zee Studios kept theatrical exploitation rights. With such a massive punt on one single film with a price of over INR 230 cr, it was always a risky proposition. The PR teams of SKF and Zee studio floated all kinds of funny figures from its digital premiere, in order to claim success but the cat is finally out of the bag. The film failed to bring any significant jump in its subscription base, despite the heavy marketing. The film proved to a major dud in overseas with little less than USD 3 million as a lifetime number, which is poor even in Covid times, considering Salman’s following in Middle East and an added advantage of it being an Eid release.
Now, we hear that Akshay Kumar’s film releases are waiting in wings to go RADHE way. Akshay Kumar’s SOORYAVANSHI and BELL BOTTOM have started eyeing OTT premiere route or hybrid release model of RADHE. But after such a massive disappointment of RADHE, OTTs are wary to pay such astronomical sums for a single big film. Even Ranveer Singh starrer 83 is mulling that option for quite some time.
It was recently reported that Disney+Hotstar is looking a line up of small to medium sized Hindi films, and not big budget or A-lister films that they bought rights to last year and suffered major losses.
Akshay Kumar even issued a statement regarding same via trade, stating that the plans for release of both the films are still under discussion. This panic and clarification indicate that things are not as rosy as they seem. We all know that Akshay Kumar does multiple films at a time and OTTs cannot afford high prices for his films, since there’s huge exposure of the actor across the films, leaving no room for exclusivity. The actor’s other film ATRANGI RE is also waiting in the wings to get a release. Even RAM SETU will be ready in no time, going by his speed of completion the films.
AKSHAY KUMAR OFFICIAL STATEMENT… "However, at this point, it is purely speculative to say that both films [#Sooryavanshi, #BellBottom] will release on #IndependenceDay. The producers of both films are working out the release dates and will make announcements at the right time."
— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) May 22, 2021
In short, OTT platforms used to bid on big films like LAXXMI BOMB, COOLIE NO 1 and RADHE to acquire as many new subscribers as possible but now it’s all about consolidation and making sense economically. These big stars and A-listers can bring initial noise, buzz and rush but ultimately these films are made for big screens and that’s where their viability lies. OTTs might now get cautious and actors might find it difficult to get obscene figures for OTT premiere from now on. RADHE might prove to be a reality check for OTTs as well as for the stars.