Film producers and theatre owners in the Tamil cinema industry are yet to arrive at a mutually acceptable consensus on the issue of the Virtual Print Fee (VPF). VPF is the subsidy paid by a film distributor or an exhibitor towards the purchase of a digital cinema projection equipment. While theatres have opened across the state on November 10, seven months since they shut in March due to pandemic and lockdown, no new releases have hit the marquee on the reopening day due to this ongoing tussle.
Trying to ease this tension are the Digital Service Providers (DSPs), who have offered to waive off the VPF at least for the month of November to smoothen the reopening of business. Both UFO Cine Media Network and Qube, the two main DSPs in India, have made this offer. â€śWhile we have been suffering huge losses, we feel that it is important for the film industry to open up in a big way during the festival season of Deepavali. With this object in mind, we have decided to waive off all the VPF/CDC for new films released in November 2020 across India,â€ť UFO has said in its statement.
Meanwhile, Qube, in its statement issued on November 9, condemned the Tamil Film Active Producers Associationâ€™s (TFAPA) stand, calling it â€śunethical and unfairâ€ť. â€śWe have already offered a significant compromise in the VPF charges as digital service providers, and it is vital that producers agree to it rather than threaten the livelihoods of vulnerable theatres. This is a time when the industry must come together to ensure that cinema survives, and we are shocked by the TFAPAâ€™s opportunistic demands,â€ť they had noted at first.
However, less than a day later, they issued another statement that fell in line with UFOâ€™s. â€śAs different industries are slowly resuming business, Qube believes that it is imperative that all stakeholders in the industry support each other during the revival. Qube is of the understanding that providing this full discount on VPF would enable producers and exhibitors release new movies during the festive Deepavali season, help kickstart cinema operations and finally get the Industry back on its feet again,â€ť it said in its latest statement.
However, both Qube and UFO added that charges for logistics of content delivery and key management both for DCI and E-Cinema content will be applicable. â€śWe shall be charging logistics and license/KDM management charges of Rs 1500 per film per property for delivery of Non-DC content, and Rs 2000 for DCI content for films released in November 2020. Applicable taxes will be charged extra,â€ť UFO mentioned in its statement.