So, the theatres have reopened in many nations, but Ishaan Khatter’s and Ananya Panday’s action thriller isn’t releasing in any multiplex following the choice of the multiplex association to not screen a movie that has already premiered on the digital platform. “Some independent multiplexes needed to choose it. But the service providers weren’t able to write off the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) charges,” grouses Shariq Patel, CEO, informing that overheads like VPF increase the producer’s burden. Therefore the time has come to reimagine the way forward.
It has ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari,’ cast Fatima Sana Shaikh, Diljit Dosanjh, and Manoj Bajpayee, and planning for a Diwali release. And while Shariq has committed to a theatrical release, he wants exhibitors to form it financially viable for the studio, too, by reducing VPF and, therefore, the gap between theatrical and OTT release. It is important for exhibitors, service providers, and large multiplex chains to re-calibrate the terms for a few months. Hopefully, they’re going to take a step in a positive direction,” he says fervently. He is, however, quick to say that the family comedy won’t arrive before Mumbai, the most important marketplace for Hindi films, and Punjab, where Diljit rules, reopen. “The industry business will grow,” he avers.
Cinemas, PV Sunil, MD stands by the movie theater complex association’s to digital release as it would set an immoral example. “We are working with all rules,” he informs. Sunil is confident that the filmmaking business will undergo an enormous change within the coming year resulting in a transparent demarcation between the two platforms.
VPF made news last year when Ronnie Screwvala filed a case against multiplexes within the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for its imposition. The CCI pronounced its verdict in favor of the multiplexes. Prod Sunil on the topic within the light of the continued pandemic, and he shares that the difficulty is under discussion, and a variety of changes are on the way. “Qube and UFO are offering VPF responsibilities. It’ll be a replacement system of distribution, which can cause cost-saving. Positive changes dwell the longer term,” he promises but reiterates that there is no possibility of reducing the window between theatrical and OTT release as things stand today.
Trade analyst Komal Nahta feels that return one OTT film to the theatre will set a replacement trend.
What Is Virtual Print Fee?
VPF is an amount fixed by national multiplexes to makers to raise the technology, thus improving the experience of cinema. On average, producers/distributors pay Rs 20,000/ per screen as VPF to the theatres.
As per non-national chains, the virtual print fee is collected by service providers like Qube, UFO, and Scrabble. Interestingly, the fees are levied only on Indian films. Hollywood studios are exempt from paying the fee.