Mukta Arts, Adlabs form JV to upgrade "B" class theatres

MUMBAI: In the near future, it looks as if cinema might give television a run for its money and lure audiences away from their home. Mukta Arts has entered into a joint venture with the Manmohan Shetty promoted Adlabs to form a new company called Mukta Adlabs Digital Exhibition. Under the aegis of the new JV company, producer-director and Mukta Arts chairman Subhash Ghai will seek to upgrade 400 "B" class theatres across India within the next year.

A press release says that Mukta Adlabs Digital Exhibition has immediate plans to upgrade a minimum of 100 selected theatres out of 500 theatres in the Punjab, UP, Bengal and Bihar. Maharashtra already has 21 theatres running films with this digital projection of picture and stereo sound. Commenting on this new technology, Subhash Ghai was quoted as saying: " Wait and watch the economic revolution this technology will bring about in the cinema industry."

A press release says that this new technology of digital projection through hard discs will avoid the use of film prints, which costs between Rs 50,000 and Rs 60,000 to the distributor. It will also enable audiences of "B" and "C" class centres to watch their favourite films on the first day itself - thereby making simultaneous worldwide release a possibility.

At present, in these centres, films were being shown after the third or fourth week of release, which gave a low revenue return to the exhibitors and distributors because of VCD and cable piracy, which stole the larger share of their revenue.

The release adds that audiences have been enthralled with such the cinematic experience and the collections have gone up by two to three times with the same normal ticket prices due to this new upgradation in technology.

Film marketing and distribution consultant Shonjoy Bhattacharjii welcomes the move by saying: "The greatest change and opportunity in the Indian market is the vast improvement in the exhibition sector. The recent spate of hit films - Andaz, Bhoot, Jism, Chalte Chalte - proves that audiences are returning to the theatres. This trend is more prominent in the big cities at present but will eventually filter down to the 'B' and 'C' markets. The market share of cinema as a medium has shot up due to improved infrastructure in the existing theatres and advent of multiplexes." 

The JV company Mukta Adlabs Digital Exhibition will also benefit from the fact that certain states have been encouraging the exhibition sector to adopt the latest technology by giving holiday taxes and other subsidies to promote cinema and its economy. The release quotes the example of UP, which has more than a 1,000 theatres. The state has given a 100 per cent tax exemption to multiplexes and 50 per cent for updating the old theatres. The same response of updating their cinema halls has also been shown by Bengal, which has 700 theatres in the state.

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