The Blueberry Hunt, an English-Hindi movie which is releasing in theatres today, is offering a legal digital download of the film in a week. We spoke with the writer-director Anup Kurian to get an idea about why he decided to do a parallel online and theatrical release:
MediaNama: Why did you choose to make the movie available for download online?
Kurian: The direct download is a very natural progression of how a film’s premiere should be taken to the audience. Because at this point, there are many ways to enjoy a film and I believe that (users should be able to) watch the film on the device they prefer to or in a theatre. When you want to provide a film on the device they prefer, the best option today is to give them an HD file with the subtitles. This is exactly what we’re doing.
— ebharat (@ebharat) April 8, 2016
MediaNama: Did you face any pressure from cinema owners asking you to let the movie download happen after the theatrical release? (The movie was supposed to be released on 30 April, the same day the website offers a download for.)
Kurian: We planned for the digital and theatrical release on 15 April but rescheduled to 8 April for India. Today it is out in the theatres, where we have 25 shows across India. Because the digital download is set to be a week after the theatre release, Indian users will get their copy on 15 April. If we were a bigger film with a much bigger title, where theatrical owners are worried about digital download eating into their revenues, then it might have been an issue, but for us and most of the digital downloads, we are targeting for outside India.. I am not pushing any campaign in India but there are campaigns outside India. I haven’t seen any digital download happen in India today, but I can see downloads from New Zealand, Seattle, where we’re not releasing in the theatres. So theatre owners won’t have a problem. It’s not strictly enforced, but my campaign for digital downloads are not overlapping theatrical releases in those cities.
MediaNama: Is that why you don’t have a digital campaign in India?
Kurian: We do have a campaign (on Facebook and YouTube) but that’s only for theatrical release, which goes to BookMyShow for buying tickets. The movie was completed in 2011… I could’ve released the film any time in 2013, 14 or 15, but I wouldn’t be able to manage a campaign and release like this, because digital platforms like Facebook or Google or YouTube, are very sophisticated. In 2011, there was no way to show an ad on Facebook’s news feed. Now 99% of our campaign is happening on the news feed. It also took me a couple of years to save money for this campaign… I won’t release a film without a campaign. We changed the release date because a Shah Rukh Khan film is releasing on the 15th.
Also read: Tehelka’s His blueberry nights