Amazon Prime Video turning producer with Ram Setu has industry excited
In a landmark move for its India operations, OTT platform Amazon Prime Video is turning producer for a Bollywood film. Akshay Kumar upcoming film ‘Ram Setu’ will be co-produced by Amazon Prime Video, Cape of Good Films, Abundantia Entertainment and Lyca Productions. The action-adventure drama is directed by Abhishek Sharma (‘Parmanu’, ‘Tere Bin Laden’) and creatively produced by Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi (‘Prithviraj Chauhan’). ‘Ram Setu’, which brings forward a story deeply rooted in Indian cultural and historical heritage, also stars Jacqueline Fernandes and Nushrratt Bharuccha in key roles.
Following its theatrical release, ‘Ram Setu’ will soon be available for Prime members in India and in more than 240 countries and territories.
Commenting on the association, Vijay Subramanium, Director and Head, Content, Amazon Prime Video India, in a release issued said, “We are delighted to further take a step into co-producing by collaborating with a film that highlights our Indian heritage. Our collaboration with Vikram Malhotra and Abundantia Entertainment as well as with Akshay Kumar till date has been unique and highly successful; and with this step, we move into the direction of further deepening and strengthening our association.”
As per Indian mythology, Ram Setu (globally known as Adam’s Bridge) was built by the Vanar Sena under Lord Ram’s direction using limestone shoals that floated on water, joining the mainland of Lanka, where its king Ravan had held Sita captive.
Amazon Prime Video’s decision to turn producer has excited the industry, which sees this as a very interesting collaboration and one that could lead to a change in terms between exhibitor and producer in a big way.
Neena Dasgupta, CEO and Director, Zirca Digital Solutions, sees this as a very interesting collaboration. She remarked, “While OTT platforms have always been involved in originals, co-producing allows one to bring in best of the two worlds. The platform brings in analytics and science of viewership and the other producer brings in the creativity and art of entertainment. Numerous examples are available across content genres, where co-producing has upped the ante of content quality. With the names involved here, I as a viewer would definitely wait for the final product with high expectations.”
According to an industry expert who did not wish to be named, “Amazon Prime’s decision to co-produce ‘Ram Setu’ sets a new trend for the Indian film entertainment industry. Its focus to bring alive content for global audiences has found great merit in ‘Ram Setu’, featuring Akshay Kumar. Both Abundantia and Lyca have a credible team and this film could see great box office success and a wide global digital viewership through Amazon Prime’s valuable support.”
Karan Taurani, VP - Research Analyst (Media & Consumer Discretionary), Elara Capital, opined, “This may lead to change in terms between exhibitor and producer in a big way (specifically window reduction). However, we need to wait and watch whether other OTT players will adopt this move.”
He further said, “Nonetheless, the window between a film’s theatre release and release on OTT platforms, which is currently at 6-8 weeks, is bound to get disrupted to 4 weeks in case Amazon Prime produces more of such large films. A reduction in window time of less than four weeks will have a definite negative impact on cinema footfalls. However, we don’t see this trend of large films going directly on OTT despite Amazon or any other OTT being a producer, as clearly the big stars would not be in favour of a direct release on OTT and will always favour a cinematic release.”
According to Taurani, one positive aspect of this is that it will lead to expansion of the market as even broadcasters have moved from buying rights for TV/digital to film production or have a film production arm (Viacom18, ZEE, Sun Pictures, etc.) “However, no one has gone for a direct digital/TV release until now. While more details are awaited on what Amazon’s strategy is regarding this, but a direct release looks highly unlikely for now as the cost of large films is too high and web series is the kind of content they heavily rely upon as it provides for a more sticky subscriber base vis-a-vis films, which may be ‘hero content’.”