PeepingMoon Exclusive: South Indian film remakes favour OTT premiere over theatrical release; Thadam and U-Turn remakes likely to go for direct-to-digital release
Over a dozen South Indian films have been remade in Hindi in the past three years. The last year alone witnessed 11 Bollywood remakes of South Indian cinema hitting screens, but none of them—except Ajay Devgn’s Drishyam 2—performed well at the box office. The failures of films like Bachchhan Paandey, Jersey, Nikamma, Hit: The First Case, Vikram Vedha, and Mili, which were all remakes of South Indian movies, proved the fact that remakes are just not working anymore in this post-COVID world when audiences have evolved and broadened their world cinema viewing.
Given the unpredictability of remake films' box office potential, producers began releasing such films on OTT platforms. Films like Forensic, Good Luck Jerry, and Cuttputlli premiered directly on streaming sites, and although the films were panned there as well, the producers made money through this medium. Knowing that opting for an OTT release is safer for remakes, many Bollywood filmmakers are now considering the same for their upcoming movies adapted from South Indian films. Producers Ekta Kapoor and Murad Khetani are also said to be opting for a direct-to-digital release for their upcoming projects. Peepingmoon.com has exclusively learned that Ekta’s U-Turn remake (starring Alaya F) and Murad’s Thadam remake (starring Aditya Roy Kapur and Mrunal Thakur) will likely take the digital route, skipping a theatrical release.
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"All the Bollywood remakes of South Indian films that released and flopped badly last year were already available in the Hindi dubbed version on YouTube. The Kannada thriller U-Turn and Tamil hit Thadam are also available in Hindi and have been watched millions of times. The producers understand that audiences have become choosy and want to watch only big-scale, visually stunning, fresh stories in theaters, and that U-Turn and Thadam are the kinds of films they would rather watch on their TV, laptop, or mobile screen. Opting for OTT for such projects would not only be financially safe for producers, but it would also give the films a good viewership. Both Ekta Kapoor and Murad Khetani are scouting for buyers, and discussions are ongoing with several OTT platforms," a source close to the development told us.
Apart from Thadam's remake Gumraah and U-Turn, the Hindi remakes of The Great Indian Kitchen and Blind are also eyeing a direct-to-digital release. They are also talking to streaming platforms, but things haven’t materialised yet. "OTT platforms have also changed their strategy, and it’s now a little difficult to please them. They struggled to attract audiences last year and are now purchasing only a few films for direct-to-digital release while focusing more on creating multi-season web shows. They are now asking producers to release their films in theatres before buying the streaming rights, and if that happens in the case of these remakes, the producers might go for a token theatrical release. It's all up in the air right now, with no OTT platform coming aboard any film so far," the source added.
Although the South Indian film remakes have mostly been rejected lately, the Hindi film industry hasn’t stopped remaking them. This year has at least six such remake projects slated to hit theatres, beginning with Kartik Aaryan’s Shehzada, which is the remake of Allu Arjun’s Telugu blockbuster Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo and will release in cinemas on February 10. Akshay Kumar and Emraan Hashmi’s Selfiee, based on Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Malayalam action comedy Driving Licence, will hit cinemas on February 24. Ajay Devgn’s Bholaa, adapted from Karthi’s action-thriller Kaithi, will come out on March 30. Salman Khan is remaking Ajith Kumar's 2014 Tamil hit Veeram as his Eid offering, Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan, while Akshay Kumar is stepping into the shoes of Suriya for the Hindi remake of Soorarai Pottru. Remakes of Chhatrapathi and Mumbai Police are also in the works.