Tamil cinema strike: The story till now

Stand-off over visual print fee intensifies

Strike will continue, says Vishal, as producers and digital distributors remain at loggerheads

A month on, the tussle between the Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC) and digital service providers like Qube Cinema Technologies and UFO Moviez over the Visual Print Fee (VPF) is threatening to bring the film industry to its knees.

The decisions taken by various stakeholders since the beginning of the dispute has led to the month of March — the period during which smaller movies hit the screens ahead of the holiday season being wasted, thereby raising the possibility of films piling up for release in the near future.

TFPC president Vishal said that the Kannada and Tamil film industries were pressing ahead with the procurement of new digital projectors from another company. “The strike will continue. A meeting in this regard will take place on Monday evening,” he said.

In a statement, the TFPC reiterated the need for getting rid of the VPF, reducing internet booking charges and setting up a combined computerised booking system, among other measures.

Addressing a press meet in Bengaluru along with office-bearers of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders, Mr. Vishal said, “There is a big difference between the VPF charged for Hollywood films and our movies,” adding, “I wouldn't call it a strike, but a revamp period for the industry.”

Producer G. Dhananjayan, however, questioned the need for a strike by theatre owners at this juncture. “Instead of addressing the ongoing issue between producers and digital service providers, a strike against the government is now being carried out by the theatres,” he rued.

He further stated that out of the 1,069 theatres in Tamil Nadu, only 150 had their own equipment. “Producers hire theatres to screen their movies. Why is a third party being brought in and [why] insist on paying them as well (referring to Qube Cinema Technologies)?”

But members of theatre owners’ associations told The Hindu that they didn’t have any problem with digital service providers and will honour their contracts with them.

Well-known exhibitor and distributor Tiruppur Subramanian rejected the argument that the theatres had a role in the ongoing tussle between producers and digital service providers. “We cannot comment on issues that don’t concern us. We have our own issues such as the GST and the entertainment tax levied by local bodies,” he said.

Christy Siluvappan, who runs Chris Pictures and has produced movies like Magalir Mattum and Kuttram Kadithal, said the strike was necessary to flag the issue. “Peripheral businesses such as online ticketing operators, digital distributors and others are making money but the individual producers who make the movies are not. It is clear that the VPF has to go. And there needs to be a proper timeline for scrapping it,” he said.

(With inputs from S. Poorvaja)

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 11:26:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/stand-off-over-visual-print-fee-intensifies/article23037221.ece

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