On November 24, 2016, Tamil movie titled ‘Kavalai Vendaam’ was released. Just a day or two after, the movie was all over the internet, with a couple of websites uploading a pirated version online.
This isn’t unusual in the Tamil film industry. Almost all films, from small-budget ones to mega-releases, invariably and eventually get pirated and released online.
But of late, some members of the film fraternity, like actor Vishal, have been taking the ‘menace’ seriously and fighting against it.
So, when producer of ‘Kavalai Vendam’, Eldred Kumar, found out about his movie being pirated, he wanted to find out how it happened.
Kumar has since managed to track down the men who pirated the movie to a town not too far away. Surprisingly, the piracy originated from the Sri Devi Theatre in Arakkonam – a single-screen movie hall.
The producer has said that his team managed to nail down the accused with the help of Qube Cinema Network, as the movie was registered with it. The theatre manager Murali and operator Dilli Babu have been arrested and investigations are on, said the producer.
The irony here is that it is theatre owners who have been worst hit by film piracy.
While theatre-owners themselves stand to lose from piracy, isn’t it surprising that their own lot are pirating movies? Not quite, especially since single-screens are fast losing business and piracy seems a better business opportunity.
A story in Mint shows how single-screen theatres in India are at the verge of a collapse, and demonetization has only made it worse for them.
Single-screen theatres have no bargaining power with producers, and stand to lose a huge amount of money when films bomb. While theatre-chains and multiplexes can withstand the loss, smaller theatres could simply go out of business. And this, in spite of the fact pointed out by Mint that single-screen theatres continue to be the backbone of the Indian movie box office, contributing about 35-40% to a film’s total earnings.
So, lessons for the film industry? Get your smaller theatres to survive better.