Bollywood Movie Released On YouTube Same Day As Theatrical Release

from the day-and-date dept

The whole concept of “windowing” movie releases makes little sense. It’s as if the movie industry purposely wants to make sure customers don’t get to consume the content in the format that fits them best at the time when they’re putting the most money behind a marketing campaign. It’s hard to fathom why they do this, other than the pressure they get from the movie theater companies (which is silly, because the theaters would benefit from this too). Every so often, though, we hear about a moviemaker who seems to understand how to better reach out to an audience. Pranav points us to the news of a new movie out of Bollywood that is being released on YouTube at the same time as its theatrical release. There is a big caveat though: the YouTube videos are only available for international, rather than domestic (Indian) viewers. Also, it looks like US viewers will have to pay to rent it via Google’s new YouTube rental program, but those in any other country (outside of the US or India) can view it for free. It’s not necessarily ideal (and there doesn’t seem to be much of a business model behind the free viewings), but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

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Comments on “Bollywood Movie Released On YouTube Same Day As Theatrical Release”

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Modplan (profile) says:

The film in question can be found here:

It was fairly entertaining, but not particularly special (rated 4 stars from 1325 ratings). It’s about some guy who’s good at a particular game, with some evil gangsta trying to rope him in and win some money from betting off the back of him, with expected tragic consequences.

Edward Barrow (profile) says:

Movie Windowing

It’s certainly making less and less sense, but there is a logic to it. Chemical 70mm movie prints are expensive to make, so only a limited number of movie theatres can show a picture at the same time – obviously, there are more prints made of blockbusters than of arthouse releases. That’s why we in Europe get to see scratched and poppy releases of US films, up to six months later than you lot in the US – because the actual reels have been through lots of US projectors before we get to see them. And Hollywood still wants us to pay top dollar to see the latest blockbuster as an event for a night out (and I think they’re probably right to do so, even though I prefer to watch movies at home) – so theatre release comes first.

Needless to say, in this as everything else, digital changes the economics profoundly, because digital prints are much cheaper than chemical ones to make. And globalisation – we now get to see films only days or weeks later than you, instead of months when I were a lad, and often highbudget turkeys get an immediate global release to maximise take before the punters realise what turkeys they are.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Movie Windowing

It’s just another indication of how Hollywood is trying to live in the last century. Windowing only makes a certain amount of sense when physical prints are required – BUT, if Hollywood are losing so much money due to “piracy”, why don’t they make enough prints for regular worldwide release? You can guarantee that any movie will have some kind of “pirate” copy available on the day of its first release, if not before. Hopefully, digital will help this, but “it costs too much to make the prints but we have to stop the evil pirates stealing our money” sounds contradictory to my ears.

The issue is also with their attempting to window releases theatrically before DVD release. Many, many people cannot make it to a cinema or are put off by the obnoxious crowds you often get there. Some of those people choose to “pirate” rather than wait the 3-6 months for a DVD release. Lionsgate are releasing a movie in the UK soon entitled Heartless, and then releasing the VoD, Blu-Ray and DVD just 3 days afterwards. Servicing both markets sounds like a great step to me, even if it’s not necessarily the best model for every movie.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Movie Windowing

Lionsgate are releasing a movie in the UK soon entitled Heartless, and then releasing the VoD, Blu-Ray and DVD just 3 days afterwards.

I would suspect that the movie will be a one weekend wonder, released on thursday, running through Sunday, and then disappearing. It’s just short of being direct to DVD, which is pretty much the kiss of death for major movies.

I don’t think it is servicing both markets as much as they may have “bought” a release slot just to avoid having the movie be direct to DVD.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Movie Windowing

Idiotic reasoning, IMHO, but then that’s your forte. I think the movie has decent theatrical potential but it’s hardly blockbuster material. The director and stars will bring a respectable audience, and anyone who wishes to see it on the big screen can do so. Other audience members will not be forced to wait/download/buy a pirated copy to see it before then.

If people can’t get to the cinema or do not wish to do so because of prices/misbehaving teenagers, they may “pirate” the movie rather than waiting. In your world, that means “lost sales” and they would magically decide to go to the cinema if only the downloads weren’t available. In reality, it will be because the marketing is working (they want to see the movie) but their demands are not being met.

It’s not a model that will work for every movie, but for a moderately budgeted genre flick with niche star & director appeal? It should work OK.

“It’s just short of being direct to DVD, which is pretty much the kiss of death for major movies.”

EVERY movie ends up on DVD eventually. It’s the kiss of death for a “major” movie to go *straight* to DVD because it indicates that nobody thinks it’s good enough to release (as opposed to movies that are intended to go to DVD, which can still be good). This just gives people to actually choose which format they wish to see it in, and caters to the home crowd who would never go to the cinema a few months earlier.

Will it cannibalise cinema ticket sales? Perhaps, but it will also get people buying/renting the movie who may simply not have bothered waiting and “pirated” it instead. Windowing is a major cause of “piracy”, not a way to avoid losses.

Planespotter (profile) says:

DVD = Kiss of death? do you get out from behind that monitor ever?

Fight Club, box off flop, cult following DVD sales through the roof. Ranked 16th in IMDB top 250.

Shawshank Redemption, mahoooooosive box office flop, massive amounts of Video/DVD sales now ranked 1st in IMDB top 250.

Rule No.1, don’t ever base the success of a film on it’s box office takings.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You can always find exceptions. They will exist. But the term “direct to DVD” is pretty much the kiss of death for any movie. There are any number of movies from such “stars” as Jessica Simpson that have gone direct to DVD because nobody would pay a cent to see them in a theater.

The producers of this UK movie likely have a direct to DVD movie on their hands, but you can create so much more value by being able to see it was released in theaters, you can get more reviews, more exposure, and their short windowing is maybe something the media will grab onto, giving them some extra promotion they might not otherwise see.

Having a window that short suggests that they feel they will get all of the box office business done in a short period of time, perhaps there is only a couple of million dollars to do that way for this movie (the trailer isn’t all that interesting).

I think they are doing a marketing power move, which will likely net them more money than doing things otherwise, but there is little proof that this type of non-windowing would be bottom line beneficial for more popular movies.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The producers of this UK movie likely have a direct to DVD movie on their hands”

I’m intrigued… can you quantify this in any way, or are you just making rash assumptions again?

There’s nothing to indicate that this movie does not have commercial potential. It’s the long-awaited 3rd movie from a well-respected artist, has gotten decent reviews (currently 7.4 on IMDB) and has a solid popular British cast (Jim Sturgess, Timothy Spall, Noel Clarke).

It might not be an Avatar-sized hit, but there’s nothing to indicate this pretty decent movie (I saw it at its world premiere at Frightfest last year) would not make money at the box office. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts as to why it wouldn’t though, if you do have facts and not your usual half-assed wrong-headed assumptions.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

First off, let me say it’s my opinion. The movie isn’t out, I have seen it, I am basing my opinion on how they are marketing the movie and the trailer(s) that are out there.

I watched a trailer, and I have to say that the story didn’t seem particularly well explained. IMDB does a much better job of explaining the movie than the trailer did.

Further, horror / devil movies tend to be a little more narrow a field than average. There are plenty of these sorts of movies that have a very short run in the theaters, they seem to do better after the fact on DVD (people perhaps don’t want others to see them scared or something). While I don’t think this is a pure horror movie in any sense, I don’t see it as a date movie either, which is another strike against.

It would also appear it is 14 years since this guy directed a movie, and he only has a couple of noted credits in the last 10 years. It isn’t clear to me that this director has a huge profile. Jim Sturgess and Timothy Spall might have a bit of a draw, but this isn’t major star power, just decent actors at work. Sturgess has at least one and possible 2 films that will be around near the same time, which could also be a negative on his “star power” for the movie.

Based on the content, material, and all other other things mentioned, I suspect this is a movie that will do pretty good on DVD, it seems like a man-flick, not a date movie, something guys would enjoy at home when they have time. One weekend in theaters is likely more than enough to satisfy the public’s desire, the short window to me is an indication that they don’t feel they will be in the theater much longer.

Also, I can’t find how wide the release is going to be. Do you have that information?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Thanks for your thoughts.

I thought the trailer was OK (the Faustian deal is only one strand of the story, not the main focus in many ways), but then I saw the movie long before I saw the trailer. So, I can’t really comment on how effective it is in terms of marketing the content to a new viewer.

“Further, horror / devil movies tend to be a little more narrow a field than average”

Perhaps, but again we’re not talking about a mainstream blockbuster here so the cult/horror movie fans could even out the people put off by this. I wouldn’t be expecting a #1 or even top 5 hit, but it’s far from a low quality movie. Part of the movie also focusses on the tabloid favourite subject of “hoodie” thugs (here depicted as literally demonic), so there could be a lot of interest generated from the usual right wing rags and their howls of outrage when the film is released.

It’s rare that a British genre flick gets a cinema release, even rarer that it’s a good movie (unlike last year’s atrocious Lesbian Vampire Killers), so I think this has more potential than you’re giving it credit for. Again, not #1, $20m potential, but potential nonetheless.

“It would also appear it is 14 years since this guy directed a movie, and he only has a couple of noted credits in the last 10 years”

He’s an artist who works in numerous media, including novels, photography and theatre. He’s more of an artist who dabbles in cinema rather than an full-time director, and his return to cinema has been motivated by new technology (most notably HD digital) making his ambitions possible. None of this has any bearing on the quality of the movie, and makes the movie a must-see for those in the know and his existing fans.

“Sturgess has at least one and possible 2 films that will be around near the same time, which could also be a negative on his “star power” for the movie.”

Depending on how those movies are received, it could also be a bonus. However, neither is even in the same genre, so the effect will probably be limited either way.

It would also be interesting to see how they handle the soundtrack. The premiere featured a live performance of a couple of track from the soundtrack by Sturgess and his band. Properly handled, I think the theme song could be a moderate hit and add fuel to the movie’s success (I, for one, am waiting for the soundtrack to be available for purchase).

“the short window to me is an indication that they don’t feel they will be in the theater much longer.”

Again, you’re making a pretty big assumption that this is the case, and not that they simply wish to experiment with distribution option and this happens to be the film they though was right to do it with. Time will tell, of course, but I’d be surprised if the movie doesn’t spend at least 2 weeks in the lower reaches of the top 10 (if it gets a wide release, of course).

“Also, I can’t find how wide the release is going to be. Do you have that information?”

Sadly not, and I don’t think that information is generally available for UK releases until the week of release. My guess is that it will either be a moderately wide release (3 – 500 screens or so, the same as the aforementioned LVK), or a London-only release. Whichever way it goes may indicate how much faith they really have in the movie. We shall see.

I’ve also been trying to find out the box office returns for Mum & Dad, a far less commercial movie that tried a same day cinema, DVD & digital release a couple of years ago, but such information seems to be very hard to come by. I’d guess not much, but that would have more to do with the movie itself (a micro-budgeted, extremely nasty story) than the distribution method. A shame, but that’s the movie industry.

Mic_H (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

For those interested, there is a plan to release the soundtrack for Heartless just before the film is released.

There is also an article that goes into more detail about how Facebook and the official website will be tied into promoting the release…

As part of this innovative release strategy Lionsgate UK has received Lottery funding from the UK Film Council‘s Digital Innovation in Distribution strand. With this grant Lionsgate UK are planning a groundbreaking interactive campaign with Facebook that will allow greater synergy between fans, social media and the film’s official website through advertising, competitions and user generated content.

The central theme to this activity is in keeping with the tone of the movie – demons and the dark side to urban life. Facebook users and film fans will be asked to capture their own versions of the demons within their city through photography and/or artwork and upload them to the official website or the Facebook fan page with an incentive to win. Fans of the film will be able to view and vote on their favourite content on both sites, as well as having the cast and crew involved in the judging process. The advertising strand to this campaign takes the form of a highly engaging “voting ad” which will allow the user to engage with the themes of the film and click through to further unique content on both the fan page and official website.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I disagree that such a viewpoint is valid, to be honest.

Generally speaking, it can be true – though it’s worth noting that for every would-be theatrical release that ends up bypassing cinemas, there’s a hundred movies that were never intended to get a cinema screening in the first place. But, it’s not always true. One of my favourite movies of last year (Trick ‘r Treat) spent 2 years on the shelf before being dumped on DVD. This was not a reflection of the quality of the movie, but rather that the studio were afraid to launch a new Halloween-themed movie against the Saw sequels and couldn’t decide on another time slot.

What’s disingenuous in this case is assuming that because a movie is getting a very quick DVD release, then that reflects on the quality or marketability of the movie. Having seen the movie, I can vouch for its quality, and all the noises coming from Lionsgate suggest that this is an experiment in new distribution methods.

It’s a shame that rather than discussing the pros and cons of such a system, some people are jumping to “the movie must suck”. Time will tell how the movie is actually received, but rejecting a new format of distribution (that “pirates” already offer) because some bad movies get DVD premieres is a little silly.

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, I think you’ve got the reasoning backwards. The reason “direct to DVD” movies haven’t done well, is because they were terrible movies to begin with, and the producers and what not knew that, so they weren’t going to waste their money on a theater release, or the theaters knew it’d be terrible and didn’t want to lose money having an empty theater to run that movie in…

Personally, I think this is a brilliant move. If more movies were released like this, I’d definitely watch more movies. The reason I see so few in the theater is because I’ve wasted too much money on movies that weren’t worth the $8-$12 it costs to go see a movie. Sure, matinee’s are cheaper, but that’s because they’re at the most inconvenient times to go see a movie, so forget about them for now… Enter VoD. If I could get these movies on Demand in my home while they were still in the theater, here’s what would happen: I’d watch a lot more movies that looked interesting, from the comfort of my home, for an on demand price of $4-$6, all the good movies wouldn’t lose a penny, because I’d go see them in the theater (let’s all agree that seeing a movie in the theater is a fun experience, especially if you know it’ll be worth it) and all the bad movies should be thankful they were able to get the on demand money out of me… and in case you didn’t pick up on it, the good movies would get not only theater money, but on demand money from me too…

Your logic seems to be based on a principal of “all movies/songs/books are created equal” or something, where every one deserves the same opportunity on the market… The real world would strongly disagree…

Planespotter (profile) says:

No-one is talking about straight to DVD. Lionsgate are saying they wish to seriously reduce the length of time between Cinema to DVD/Bluray with this movie.

What they are saying, to me at least, is that they’re open to new ideas, new ways of doing business and rather than FORCE people to go to the cinema or WAIT for the DVD/Bluray release they will offer it almost immediately, this will be good for business… just hope the film is good.

Archbishop says:

Movies are cheap to see in India. Computer access, not so cheap. India has a middle class of around 300 million people. Theatres there need the prints, they’re not set up to run digital. DVD bootlegs are rampant. If I want to see a movie, I could easily buy it on the street, but where’s the fun in that?

A neat bonus about seeing movies in India is that concession isn’t just limited to the theatre. Indian movies have an intermission (they average 3 hours) and it’s not a problem to walk outside and buy food. The theatre also sells food but it’s not marked up like in the US. I can save myself a short walk and buy something inside or take a short walk and get street food made as I order and still not miss any of the movie.

That’s all with *Indian* movies. The theatres that show Hollywood movies are expensive, nicer, air conditioned and basically just like seeing a movie in the US. I say that s a guy who was GM at a couple theatres in California. I don’t remember the price of concessions though, but the employees aren’t instructed to give you the lookover to make sure you’re not bringing food/drinks with you.

None of the condescending piracy posters either.

MCR says:

Isn't Windowing a form of RTB?

Reason to Buy – if a high quality format is only available at a theater, and I want to see the movie now, I’m shelling out what I think is a reasonable price for content.

From an economic standpoint, I’m not sure how one can criticize a windowing concept. Windowing is a great way to monetize your content. While it may not give all customers what they want, they’ll certainly make more money by windowing then by realeasing in all formats simultaneously.

However, if someone wants to see the movie now, and is willing to watch a lower quality CAM that’s available on the internet, I don’t think that’s a negative for the studios either as that person didn’t have a reason to buy.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Isn't Windowing a form of RTB?

Reason to Buy – if a high quality format is only available at a theater, and I want to see the movie now, I’m shelling out what I think is a reasonable price for content.

No, the entire concept of RTB is about offering *options* so people can price discriminate themselves. Windowing is the opposite of that — creating an artificial scarcity where one need to exist.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Isn't Windowing a form of RTB?

“From an economic standpoint, I’m not sure how one can criticize a windowing concept.”

Simple, for two reasons. First of all, not everybody is willing or able to attend a cinema screening. By locking out these customers, you encourage downloading that may not happen if the DVD was available.

Secondly, windowing forces multiple advertising campaigns, while making other formats available immediately would mean that the initial campaign covers all releases.

“However, if someone wants to see the movie now, and is willing to watch a lower quality CAM that’s available on the internet, I don’t think that’s a negative for the studios either as that person didn’t have a reason to buy.”

You’re making a couple of assumptions:

1. That the person downloading will never go on to buy the DVD when it’s officially released.

2. That the person downloading never goes on to see the movie at the cinema.

3. That the person would not have paid money to see the movie had windowing not forced his or her hand into downloading as the only option to see it now.

OK, most of these factors are essentially unknowable, but windowing itself is a relic from a past where it was actually necessary. There used to be a 2-3 year window between cinema and VHS releases, it was 6 months or less by the end of that format’s lifespan. I’m sure that the studio heads who were scared of video thought that such a long window was “necessary” in the same way as you’re suggesting that windowing itself is necessary.

That’s why experiments in new release methods has to take place – to validate or invalidate the current economic model.

MCR says:

Re: Re: Isn't Windowing a form of RTB?

While I agree it’s not the best model for consumers, it’s hard to argue with its success. I’m not saying they wouldn’t make more money by offering it in multiple formats at once, but you can’t say they would either (as there’s no way to compare). I can say they make enough money to continue the windowing model. As long as they keep making money, they’re not going to change.

Personally, I’d love to have digital version I can watch at home on the day of release, but I didn’t put up the $$$ to make the movie. As for the CAM statement, it’s my opinion that the studios don’t experience a negative impact from someone downloading a CAM. I think it’s a wash whether the CAM prevents or encourages them from going to the theater or buying the DVD — some do, some don’t.

DOUCHE says:

direct to dvd.

there are many people out there making alot of money releaseing these direct to video films, Troma Films has been doing it for almost 30 years,, now you have companies like Seduction Cinema, Brain Damage Films making money and giving these film makers an actual career. They have done quite well with films like “Lord of the G Strings”, “Great American Snuff Film, Gorno, Swamp Zombies,Cottontail,Rock n Roll Frankenstien, and more than 300 other titles.

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