Last year, when the Coronavirus pandemic began to spread its wings across the country, a large number of Bollywood films decided to skip theatrical release. With theatres being asked to shut, many producers didn’t find it feasible to keep holding the film’s release. Hence, they decided to not add to the rising costs and took refuge on OTT. But as time passed, the cases began to reduce and cinemas also began to open and even record good occupancy. As a result, a lot of filmmakers got the confidence to opt for a theatrical release first. Sadly, a handful of films came in cinemas and then once again, the cases began to increase. Theatres once again downed shutters. And once again, the producers are getting tempted to get into the OTT bandwagon.
A week ago, the producers of Radhe – Your Most Wanted Bhai surprised one and all as they decided to release the Salman Khan-starrer on Eid in cinemas as well as on a pay-per-view platform, ZeePlex. And now, the trade is abuzz that the upcoming biggie, Bellbottom, starring Akshay Kumar, will premiere on digital. A source informed Bollywood Hungama, “Bellbottom will premiere on Disney+ Hotstar. The makers have agreed to the financials being offered. They feel it’s a practical decision since the theatres would not open anytime soon. The makers and Hotstar team are now deciding when to release this film.”
The source adds, “The producers then were toying with the idea of going on OTT directly, and also wanted to gauge the market price of the film. But as cinemas were allowed 100% occupancy in February and more and more producers announced the release dates of their films, Bellbottom makers decided to follow suit.” If the second wave had not caused havoc, it would have released in cinemas on May 28, that is, two weeks after Radhe – Your Most Wanted Bhai.
The source further reveals, “Amazon Prime was still interested in buying the film. But it is being said that Disney+ Hotstar had a better offer and thus won the coveted deal.”
Bellbottom will be the second consecutive film of Akshay Kumar after Laxmii (2020) that will premiere on an OTT platform. Coincidentally, Laxmii was also premiered on Disney+ Hotstar. A trade expert says, “It is possible that Disney+ Hotstar paid a bomb for Bellbottom. Akshay Kumar is a crowd-puller and Bellbottom looks like a slick thriller. It’s sure to generate a lot of craze upon its release.”
Bellbottom also stars Vaani Kapoor, Lara Dutta, Huma S Qureshi and Adil Hussain. Directed by Ranjit M Tewari, it was one of the first Bollywood films to be shot amid the Coronavirus pandemic.