In a partial resolution to the ongoing strike in the southern film industry over prices charged by digital service providers, the Telugu film industry has now reportedly agreed to withdraw the protest, which included withholding the theatrical release of new movies.
While the Kannada and Malayalam producers called off the strike after one day on March 2, the Telugu film industry reached an agreement with digital service providers on Thursday, which included a reduction in the prices. Films are expected to release this weekend. However, the impasse continues with Tamil producers.
The strike began on March 1 after producers’s councils representing the four South Indian film industries – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam – demanded lower virtual print fees and weekly rental fees from digital service providers such as QUBE and UFO. Digital service providers are responsible for financing and managing equipment needed to exhibit films digitally in theatres. For this, companies extract a virtual print fee from producers.
Tamil film producers reportedly wanted the fee waived off completely.
Speaking to The News Minute, Venkatesh from Chennai’s Woodlands Theatre, called the Tamil producers’ stance unreasonable and said that digital film projection has brought down costs of movie prints considerably. “When digital cinema came in lieu of film print, the costs went down from Rs 60,000 to Rs 20,000 per print per theatre,” Venkatesh said. “The releases also went up manifold, from 100 screens to around 300 screens,”
“There are about 60 Tamil films waiting to be released. What’s the point in this strike?,” he asked.
In February, during the run-up to the strike, SR Prabhu, the treasurer of the Tamil Nadu Film Producers Council told The New Indian Express that they want the virtual print fee and weekly rentals to be waived.
Cinemas in Tamil Nadu are reportedly currently screening Hindi films and re-releasing older Tamil hits, but footfalls are low.