Right from earlier this year, there have been ample reports claiming that Akshay Kumar starrer Bell Bottom might take Laxmii route and opt for digital release. Amid the second wave of the Covid-19, theatres were closed in the country. Many producers felt it was not feasible to keep holding onto the films.
It was only a week ago when the Maharashtra government announced unlock with a grading system of different levels. With that, cinemas can have 50 % capacity and all Covid-19 protocols have to be followed.
Circling back to Bell Bottom, the multi-starrer is a highly anticipated film since it’s set in a different time. According to sources “Bell Bottom was earlier supposed to release in April 2021. It was one of the first films to be wrapped during the pandemic last year. With the second wave hitting the nation, and the theatres being shut again, the makers felt it was better to wait until the situation got better.
Akshay Kumar and the Vasu Bhagnanis had attractive offers from digital streaming services for a digital premiere; however, Vashu Bhagnani is keen to release the film in theatres. Both Vashu and Akshay Kumar want to support and revive the exhibition sector. Hence, they are inclined towards the theatrical release in order to revive the cinemas.”
The source further added, “As fans have been eager, waiting for an update, the official announcement for the theatrical release will be made most likely today. The satellite rights of the film are with Sony whereas the digital rights are with Amazon.
The makers of Akshay Kumar’s Bell Bottom are in conflict with multiplex associations.
The makers of Akshay Kumar’s Bell Bottom are in conflict with multiplex associations over the film’s digital release plan. The producers of Akshay Kumar’s thriller Bell Bottom have created a way to release Bell Bottom on Amazon Prime Video within 20 days of its theatrical release, as per sources.
However, we’ve heard that the creators are planning on keeping a 14 to 17-day window. As soon as the news broke, the exhibition industry began analyzing the possibilities of team Bell Bottom’s proposal.
“We’ve been discussing the terms of release with the Bell Bottom team. While we understand that the producers are taking a chance, they should be aware that movie Theatres are the ones who are hurting the most. How and why will people come to see a movie on the big screen if it’s coming out on OTT in two weeks?, “under the condition of anonymity, an exhibitor stated.
While single-screen theatres are welcoming this concept, national multiplex chains are denying the Bell Bottom team’s terms. “The multiplex groups are against the idea of a picture being released on OTT within 20 days,” a trade source said.
They’re keeping to their guns, demanding that the filmmakers leave at least a 28-day gap. The major chains would not release Bell Bottom if the producers did not take further steps. They believe it is unfair and will create a bad precedent for all future releases.
National chains and Bhagnani’s are constantly arguing over release plans, which include everything from revenue splits to theatrical upcoming releases. The national chains are currently opposed to screening Bell Bottom if the filmmakers are planning an early digital release.
Amazon Prime Video has granted Akshay Kumar and the Bell Bottom team an additional Rs. 30 crore for an early OTT premiere.
As per people familiar to us, Akshay Kumar and the Bell Bottom team have decided to release the film early on Amazon Prime Video. Bell Bottom will premiere on the digital world within three weeks of its theatrical release, as per our source. The news caused a sensation in the industry, and the multiplex group, as expected, decided to oppose the idea of an early OTT premiere.
Multiplex owners had decided to raise their concerns about the debut on OTT in such a short timeframe, according to trade experts. And now there’s a new scoop. As per a trustworthy source, the Bell Bottom team has received an offer from Amazon Prime Video for a massive premium if they choose an early release.
“If the film premieres within three weeks of its release, Amazon Prime Video will pay the Bell Bottom team an extra Rs. 30 crores over and beyond their contractual deal [the usual premiere pattern of six to eight weeks],” the sources added.
This is a significant sum for the Bell Bottom team, considering theatre earnings are expected to be low in the wake of a pandemic. It’s the amount of money involved that’s too attractive for them to pass up, so they’ve zoomed in on this rollout technique.
Given the present pandemic, the film would make very little business after its two-week run. So it’s better to take the extra Rs. 30 crores and make it a win scenario for the producers. “Even the exhibitors would get new content to show,” the person said.
While the producers benefit from this, the exhibition industry is divided, since everyone in the industry neglects the fact that the exhibition industry has been the worst hit by the pandemic. “While it is a profitable move for the producers, it may result in a loss of audience for the exhibitors.
Why would someone risk seeing a movie in a theatre if it’s free in less than 20 days? The single-screen business is bleeding, and such a move will aggravate the problem in the long run. Shorter OTT windows would accelerate the demise of single screens by providing producers with another revenue source. It’s Bell Bottom today, but it could be anyone else tomorrow.”
Chances are that the makers might even announce the release date along with the theatrical release announcement. We have to now wait and watch how things pan out for this retro-big-budget movie.”
Directed by Ranjit M Tewari, the spy thriller was shot extensively in Scotland. It is written by Aseem Arrora & Parveez Shaikh. Produced by Vashu Bhagnani, Jackky Bhagnani, Deepshikha Deshmukh, Monisha Advani, Madhu Bhojwani, and Nikkhil Advani, Bell Bottom also stars Vaani Kapoor, Lara Dutta, and Huma Qureshi.