CHENNAI: Can you imagine going six whole months without catching a single new Tamil film either in a theatre near you, or on your favourite torrent site? You came awfully close to it.
On Sunday, when the newly-elected Tamil Film Producer’s Council (TFPC) held their general body meeting, a large section of them demanded that a resolution be passed to stop film releases for a period of six months to ‘repair’ the problems caused by video piracy and an increased digital projection cost.
A source in the council explained how the clamour for a clampdown on releases had begun, when the discussion turned toward high cost of digital projection. “Both companies that are doing digital projection - UFO and Qube - have complete monopoly now. Initially, when we started, the cost for using digital prints was around `80,000. But now, we do a theatrical release in 100-150 theatres regardless of how many shows are actually screened. We have been asking for these prices to be slashed because they are eating into our profits,” he said.
At this point, several of them called at least for a three-month halt to films releasing. This could have been disastrous as 16 films are slated for released between March-end and April-end.
Eventually, sense prevailed as council president Kalaipuli S Thanu told Express, “Some groups wanted a six-month ban, while others wanted a three-month ban. The basic fact is that all producers are suffering losses and we have to look into that. We have asked them for some time to call in all the parties concerned and try to reach a resolution that is beneficial to everybody.”
This is not the first time that such a drastic step has been mooted. Speaking at a programme three days ago, actor and producer Sarath Kumar, president of the South Indian Film Artistes Association, had called for a similar ban. “After our executive committee meet at the end of February, we had sent a request to the Producers Council to give a gap of at least 15 days between film releases. Otherwise, no films will ever run,” he said, “We should also stop releasing films for six months, so that pirates will not be able to do business,” he added.
Starving video pirates in Europe and Malaysia for a few months would put them out of business, by which time better digital protection measures could be developed.