Cinema screens to go blank over price hike in virtual print fee

The shutdown call has been given by the South Indian producers, distributors and exhibitors .

The shutdown call has been given by the South Indian producers, distributors and exhibitors .   | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

Movie buffs who look forward to their weekly dose of entertainment will now be disappointed as cinema halls, both single and multi screen theatres, plan to down shutters in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala for a while.

With the digital content providers charging exorbitant fee, the South Indian film industry is calling for an indefinite protest from Friday against virtual print fee (VPF) levied by them.

After a series of negotiations with digital service providers (DSP) in the recent past turning out to be futile, distributors, producers and exhibitors have teamed up to fight against the DSPs over pricing, demanding them to slash the VPF charged per screen, per week for a film. “From ₹7,000, the VPF has now gone up to ₹10,000 on a weekly basis. For screening a movie for more than a couple of weeks in the hall, the DSPs are collecting ₹27,500. As per the initial terms, once the theatres are equipped with required digital equipment, DSPs agreed to waive off the VPF a few years down the line.

However, this did not materialise and instead they ended up hiking the fee,” says V. Veeraju, vice-president of the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Theatre managers say a major chunk of the advertisement revenue goes to the DSPs as they keep repeating the advertisements before the movie begins and during the intermission as well. The demand list also includes reducing the length of the commercials screened in the theatres from 20 minutes to eight. “Eventually, repeated commercials are annoying the viewers,” observes A. Someswara Rao, manager of the Narasimha and the Sri Narasimha theatres.

Indicating the possibilities of the DSPs lowering their charges, secretary of the Cinema Exhibitors Association, Visakhapatnam, T.P. Anantham says the indefinite protest would be called off as soon as the digital content providers agree to reduce VPF.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 7:56:55 AM |

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