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Filmmakers ready to emperiment with other platforms for release of films

MUMBAI: Fox Star Studios CEO Vijay Singh said today that compared to the film scenario some years earlier, the situation had changed considerably. ‘In recent years we have been seeing a double digit growth from around 40 to 50 per cent. In 2009, there was only one film that crossed the Rs one billion mark and last year we saw as many as 11 films crossed that barrier.”


Taking part in the discussion on the marketing of film distribution of theatrical and non-theatrical films at the ongoing Ficci Frames, UTV Motion Pictures CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur agreed. “It is because the content in our film has undergone a paradigm shift. While last year, we had remakes like Bodyguard, Ready and Singham, we also had films like Delhi Belly, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Dirty Picture to name a few that did good business and earned a lot of acclaim”.


In films, 50 per cent revenue comes from theatrical collections while the rest is divided between the satellite rights and to a little extent the home video rights. But the overall scene is that from around 1250 films released every year, only a few films work while the others fail badly with some going off the screen in a day’s time.


All participants were however of the opinion that it was piracy that was eating away 20 to 30 per cent of the revenue of films.


“That is why I am of the feeling that on the overall, films not only in India but overseas too don’t do good business at all,” commented Specialtreats CEO Colin Burrows who was moderating the discussion.


This led to the speakers move to the topic of alternate platforms of distributing films and monetizing from the same. Currently there are several platforms like IPTV, OTT, STB, internet portals and mobiles catering to Hindi films. “We are open to different platforms but right now they are at a nascent stage and people should be sure that there would be enough returns monetarily” Singh observed.


But Shemaroo Entertainment Director Jai Maroo said: “Some time earlier, we had put our film Super K 1 1 on Yahoo. We weren’t sure about its run but recently when we checked, the amount of viewers had grown.”


Real Image Media Technologies Directories Senthil Kumar, and Enlighten Film Society founder chairman Pranav Asher also took part.


Meanwhile, in a discussion on From Theatre to Home to the Handheld: Superior entertainment experience all the way”, a majority of the speakers were of the view that new media devices were unlikely to replace cinema halls.


Most speakers felt this was unlikely, even as mobile phones become more sophisticated and allow users to watch movies in good video and audio and despite the growth of broadband penetration.


That is because films need a huge investment which only cinema halls justify. Also going to the theatre is a community experience which Indians are not likely to forego. What will happen though is that there will be more distribution avenues after a film has been released theatrically, was the general view.


Participants at the session included filmmaker Karan Johar, film producer Bobby Bedi, Dolby Executive VP, Sales and Marketing Ramzi Haidamus, Nokia India Marketing Director Viral Oza, and Star India VP and Head digital Lalit Bhagia. The session was moderated by NDTV managing editor - Technology Rajiv Makhni who presented demonstrations to show how sound is great not just in a cinema hall but also in a mobile phone.


Bhagia noted that the technology eco system is not completely ready for new media devices. For instance, Star produces content using Dolby surround sound. However new media devices do not support it. Johar noted that being a traditionalist, he would rather see people view films in cinema halls. But in some places, cinema halls may not be accessible and some people may not be passionate about the movie going experience. Watch films on the mobile was fine for such people as long as it can be monetized. At the same time he noted that people go to the cinema for a community outing. That will not change. Johar added that he was not keen on making content for the small screen including television. That is why he has only participated in a talk show.


Haidamus noted that offering superior audio quality on new media devices like the mobile is a way to fight piracy. “If you offer high quality then consumers will see that paying a little extra makes a big difference. We are talking about quality whether on the big or the small screen. Consumers want convenience when they access content and we put quality in their hands whether it is on the tablet, PC or the phone.”


Dolby offers headphones that give superior experience on the mobile. At the same time he noted that cinema halls are not going anywhere as films need huge investments. A film like ‘Avatar’ will never be released first on the mobile. But it would be interesting to see the sequence of platforms that a film releases on after its theatrical run.


He said consumers own an increasing number of devices. This offers companies the chance to give consumers high quality experiences on the go. “But the ultimate entertainment device for film is always the cinema hall. A home theatre cannot be replaced by a phone.”


Oza said consumers want to take their entertainment with them. This is why Nokia has launched things like Nokia Store and Nokia Music Unlimited. “Nokia is about connecting people with their passions. Our DRM free store which we launched a couple of months ago gets two song downloads a second.”

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