CHENNAI: On May 10, 2015, the Tamil film industry held a day-long fast in Chennai to condemn the prices imposed by digital service providers, Qube and UFO. Three years later, the issue is yet to be resolved.
At the heart of the issue is the Virtual Print Fee (Rs 22,500/screen/film) that digital service providers charge the producers for screening the films. Senthilkumar, founder of Qube, believes the fee is justified. “Given that many producers could not pay it in one shot, we even came up with weekly (9,000 for first week and 7,500 for second week) and daily (325 plus tax for a minimum of seven shows) slabs. The Southern rates are the lowest rates in the whole world actually. In the Western market, it is $850 for a full run and there are no differential rates like what we have introduced here,” said Senthilkumar.
He added that more charges would have been justified, but they have desisted from doing so. “In Bombay, the mastering costs Rs 2 lakh, while it costs Rs 3 lakh in the US. Even some reputed projection theatres like Prasad Labs charge anywhere between Rs 18,000 and Rs 20,000; if it were to be delivered in the form of a hard drive, it would cost Rs 2,500. We have not charged a single paisa till now.”
TN Film Prod-ucer’s Council treasurer S R Prabhu is miffed because he thinks this to be a case of unkept promises. “When they came in, they promised to bear the costs of the projec-tors they will be installing in theatres, and that only for the first five years, we would be paying VPF. It has been 13 years and the fee is still prevalent.”