The Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK) on Tuesday announced they will close down cinema halls across the state on June 7 and 8 protesting against the early release of movies on OTT platforms.
FEUOK's decision came after the producers of the movies, '2018' (2023) and 'Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum' (2023) which were running successfully in theatres, agreed to premiere the films on OTT platforms.
"The movies, '2018', 'Pachuvum Adbhudha Vilkakkum', were running successfully in theatres. We have decided to mark our protest, against the early release of such movies on OTT platforms, by closing the cinema halls on June 7 and 8.”
"We have been repeatedly requesting the government to grant permission for OTT release of movies only after a stipulated period of time after its theatrical release," FEUOK president, K Vijayakumar said at a press meet.
He said the early release of movies would make it difficult for the theatre owners to run cinema halls.
"We cannot run the cinema halls parallel to OTT platforms. A solution has to be found. Once the OTT release dates were announced for these movies, movie-goers have withdrawn from the theatres. If the producer had waited a few more days, '2018' would have become the first Malayalam movie to collect Rs 200 crore in Kerala," he said.
The movie, '2018', has collected somewhere between Rs 150 crore to Rs 200 crore, he claimed.
"As far as we understand, the government has got around Rs 60 crore in tax revenue," he said.
Meanwhile, Ariesplex SL Cinemas took to Facebook and said screens will remain closed as a protest against the early release of Malayalam movies on OTT platforms.
"Let's unite and support the big screen experience!" the post read.
The FEUOK office-bearers said the two-day shutdown is a token protest.
FEOUK reiterated that as per an agreement, producers are supposed to release the movies on OTT platforms only after 42 days after their initial theatrical release.
However, this agreement has not been taken into consideration by the producers of '2018' and 'Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum', FEUOK alleged.
As per reports, '2018' has collected around Rs 160 crore in 25 days and became the first movie to earn Rs 100 crore in a record time of 10 days.
Meanwhile, sources said that the Film Exhibitors Federation, another exhibitors union, even though it is part of the protest, has decided to screen the movies.
The federation also expressed the opinion that premiering '2018' and 'Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum' on OTT, while they are doing "extremely well" in cinema halls, will only put the theatre sector in crisis.