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On 14th March 2019, Ronnie Screwvala sued Multiplex chains such as PVR, Inox, Cinepolis, Carnival and even FICCI (multiplex association of India) in court and even the competition commission of India. Right now, it may look like he is complaining because his film didn’t do exceedingly well at the Box Office a few weeks ago. But it is actually for the greater good of the Industry.

Ronnie has gone on and done what he has is because of this; the contract was signed a few years ago between Hollywood plus Indian producers and the multiplexes that for 5 years after the introduction of the digital projectors, each film has to pay INR 20,000 Virtual Print Fee (VPF) charges per theatre for their film to be played, as the charges of the projector. This was basically done, so that the  Multiplexes could recover the cost for the projector and after five to seven years, the films had to pay no charges at all, and it was free for everyone. But now, the charges for Hollywood studios is zero, but the Indian studios and producers are STILL being charged INR 20,000 per property per film till date, which they can’t according to the agreement.

So if CAPTAIN MARVEL which released last week in about 800-1000 properties, they paid no charges at all but BADLA which released in 500-800 properties had to pay INR 20000 to make sure that their film releases. So BADLA had to pay approx a 1.40 cr. to release their film while CAPTAIN MARVEL which released in more screens and more properties had to pay nothing at all.

Ronnie has gone ahead and done this alone, he hasn’t waited for anyone else to come together and do it like we generally do in the industry. He was headstrong, he wanted to get this done and he’s done it and we applaud him for it and may he go and help the industry eventually.

A lot of the new producers and even distributors don’t even know about this above mentioned agreement. It is baffling how people are not talking or even raising this issues but now the issue has been raised and hope that the court see to it that this practice is abolished as soon as possible.

I also hope that the mulitplex chains realize what they’re doing is wrong and hope they also understand that they are co-dependent on the content they are given from these producers. Right now the avenue for producers to release their content is open; so if a producer is not going to make money releasing his film in the theatre, he can very well go to, say, a Netflix or Amazon or whoever, get a great amount of money which he probably wasn’t going to make in the theatre with zero publicity cost and print cost which he’d have to spend otherwise to recover some kind of money. They need to understand that in today’s time frame people are actually making movies; Ronnie himself has given the biggest blockbuster of the year in URI, which was produced by his company and the film is still running house-full in week 10 of its release.

Every other single individual and other producers part of the producers’ organizations need to come together and tackle this beast first and foremost because it is eating the industry from the inside.

By – Amul Vikas Mohan

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