Serkan Alan / DUVAR
Along with many other businesses, movie theaters in Turkey have closed down amid the precautions taken in the fight against coronavirus. Film shoots have been halted, festivals have been postponed, and some recently-released films have seen their run at the box office cut short.
As a result, film producers have called upon theater owners to lift the five-month limit that they are required to wait to upload their films to paid streaming sites, but they have not received an affirmative reply.
Based on legislation that was passed in October of last year, films that hit the screen in Turkey cannot be streamed on sites that charge a monthly fee for five months from the date they first premiere, while that period is six months for free streaming sites.
“The producers said that they were in a jam and that they wanted to show their films on the digital platforms. According to the law, they can show a film five months after it is released in theaters. This period in the U.S. and in Europe is one year. We are the country with the shortest waiting period in the world. We didn't give them permission and showed them the laws,” said Cinema Investors Association (SİSAY) chair İrfan Demirkol.
“We represent 90 percent of the theaters in Turkey and everyone is on the same page. We have been meeting with producers regarding this topic for 15 days and we expect them to obey the law. They say they are in debt and that it is urgent that they stream their films without waiting for five months, but we are saying that this will absolutely not happen,” Demirkol added.
Demirkol also criticized the partnership of the independent film-supporting Başka Sinema platform with the streaming site BluTV, the latter of which has become very popular in Turkey thanks to its original content. The two have teamed up to release the film Bozkır (Steppe), which was directed by Ali Özel and won numerous awards from film festivals around the world last year. The film will be available on April 8 and will cost 19.90 TL to stream.
“Naturally during this period people will watch films on digital platforms and it should not be perceived that we are against this. These films absolutely will be shown in the theaters and then will be played on digital platforms for years. We too watch 40-year-old cult films on these platforms, and we have no objection to this,” Demirkol said.
“BluTV is selling a film for 20 TL. Who will watch it? There won't be any revenue. Why would people pay 20 TL to watch the film Bozkır on television? They even say 20 TL is expensive for the cinema. Those who say that use a number of platforms at home, most of them are 30 TL a month. We said that in this type of atmosphere you won't make any money, this is wrong, don't make us sad. There will be no revenue, no one will watch that film for 20 TL,” Demirkol added.Istanbul's legendary Atlas and Rexx cinemas shut down amid financial problems