As a protest against the “exorbitant” fee being charged by the digital service providers, the film industries of Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam have geared up to embrace a strike from March 1st. The filmmakers of the four South Indian film fraternities, i.e, in Kollywood, Tollywood, Sandalwood, and Mollywood feel that after the implementation of GST (Goods and Service Tax), the collections are being affected and the high prices being charged by the digital service providers, are making their life tougher.
The producers have also added that if the demands are not met, the theatres will be shut down and no film would hit the screens from March 1st.
Kerala Film Producers Association president G Suresh Kumar said, “The major chunk of our profit goes to them (digital service providers). We have attended the meeting and informed them of our stance. Though we are yet to decide on joining the protests, we will be forced to do so if we do not get a favourable response.” He added, “They had originally promised us that the prices would be slashed after five years. But 12 years have passed, and the rates are so high that we are forced to pay over Rs 27 lakh for a film/month to get it released in 100 centres.”
However, on the other hand, the members of the digital distribution companies claim that the prices being charged are justifiable. “What have we done wrong for the film industry? We invested a huge amount of money with a huge risk. If the theatres buy their own equipment, like Sathyam Cinemas [now S2 Cinemas], Inox or PVR Cinemas do, there is no need to pay us a fee. There are operational and maintenance costs. The spares too cost money. Somebody has to pay for the equipment for digital distribution, which has brought down per-print costs considerably,” Senthil Kumar, co-founder, Qube Cinema Technologies, was quoted as saying by The Hindu.
The next meeting between the concerned parties is scheduled on February 16, and the movie lovers certainly hope that a consensus is reached so that the matter doesn’t worsen further.