Kerala theatres to not screen Malayalam films releasing from Feb 22: Here’s why
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Kerala theatres to not screen Malayalam films releasing from Feb 22: Here’s why

The Kerala Film Producers’ Association and the Film Distributors’ Association have responded with a joint declaration that they will not cooperate with theatres that do not screen the films as scheduled.

The Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK) has declared that theatres associated with it will not screen new Malayalam films that are headed for release on Thursday, February 22, and after. The decision is in protest against the Kerala Film Producers’ Association (KFPA)’s “dictatorial attitude” in the film distribution process, said FEUOK president Vijayakumar.

The KFPA and the Film Distributors’ Association, meanwhile, have jointly declared they will not cooperate with theatres that do not screen the films as scheduled. Some much-anticipated films, including Soubin Shahir starrer Manjummel Boys, are likely to be affected by the ban. However, the ban will not affect the films currently running in theatres, including Mammootty’s Bramayugam, Naslen-Mamitha starrer Premalu, and Tovino’s Anveshippin Kandethum.

FEUOK’s protest is primarily against the producers’ alleged insistence that new films will be given only to the theatres with projection systems capable of screening the content mastered at the KFPA’s own facility in Kochi. The inauguration of at least four new cinema halls in Kerala was being delayed because of the KFPA’s demand that theatres have to compulsorily install these projection systems, Vijayakumar alleged.

“With the arrival of OTT platforms, exhibitors are already reeling under severe financial crisis. Most theatre owners have been using projection systems taken on rent from external companies involved in the duplication and distribution of content. Installing a system in accordance with the KFPA’s demands will cost up to Rs 50 lakh, and it is an additional burden we are not prepared to carry. Besides, it’s the theatre owners who should decide what kind of projectors their theatres should have,” Vijayakumar told TNM. UFO and Qube are currently the two major content providers in Kerala.

The FEUOK has also put forward an array of other demands to the producers, and has insisted that the ban on screening Malayalam films will not be lifted until they are met. This includes adherence to the exhibitors’ demand that a gap of at least 42 days be followed between the theatre and OTT releases of a film. “Film producers are constantly violating the OTT window-period norms set by the exhibitors,” said Vijayakumar.

The organisation has also demanded that the Virtual Print Fee (VPF), which is to be paid to digital service providers (DSPs), be borne by the producers themselves instead of the theatre owners.

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