Digital service provider (DSP) Qube Cinema has announced a film distribution package for producers which discounts Virtual Print Fee (VPF) for new releases by 50%. This special package will ease the financial burden of releasing new movies in the difficult period post lockdown. This special package will be effective from the day theatres open in the respective states and will be effective until December 31, 2020.
The company said in an official statement, â€śThe pandemic has brought cinema production and distribution to a grinding halt for over 7 months. Qube believes that it is imperative that all stakeholders in the industry support each other during the revival, so the focus of the Covid package is to assist producers and distributors partially overcome the adverse financial impact caused by the pandemic.â€ť
The Tamil Film Active Producersâ€™ Association, headed by veteran director P Bharathiraja, has written a letter to the Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners' Association placing six demands. One of their main demands is that they will not pay the Virtual Print Fee to the theatre owners due to the exorbitant rates charged by Digital Service Providers as VPF for the exhibition of films. Virtual Print Fee is one among the longstanding issues in the industry. Last year, the Tamil industry also called for an indefinite shutdown following their protest against the same.
It is said that the digital projectors cost Rs 30-40 lakh and come with a huge maintenance cost that many exhibitors cannot afford. So, the DSPs install the projectors and get their revenue from the in-house advertising and VPF from producers. However, the producers object to this as they say they are already spending crores for production and they are being charged for their content exhibition which has to be borne by the theatre owners.They also feel that producers of small and medium-budget movies suffer a lot due to the VPF amount.
The service providers maintain that the producers are being charged a fee that includes conversion to digital package, licensing, delivery and editing the movie into different versions. It costs â‚ą6-8 lakh per movie overseas and in India, the producers only pay a fraction of that.
It may be noted that recently the digital service providers reduced the prices following a request from the Producers Council. This includes D-Cinema licence from Rs 22,000 to Rs 10,000 and e-cinema rates from Rs 9000 to Rs 5000. From Rs 325 per show per screen per day, the price was brought down to Rs 250.