CHENNAI: After staging a massive combined fast at Valluvar Kottam, the unified unions representing the Tamil film industry threatened digital projection firms Qube and UFO that they would stop releases for six months after June 12, if they didn’t show them the money.
From 8 am to 5 pm, at least 700 people affiliated to one cine union or the other - they were plenty to pick from with the TFPC, SIFAA, FEFSI, TANTIS et al participating - made their presence felt at the token fast against these digital projection firms. Notably, Kalaipuli S Thanu, TFPC President, R Sarath Kumar, SIFAA President and actors like Udhayanidhi Stalin, Santhanam, Arya and others were present at Valluvar Kottam, through Sunday.
Though their 10-point demand ranged from a cut in advertising revenue to reduction of processing rates, the final appeal was made to AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa - to take charge of these firms and run them on behalf of the government, much like Arasu Cable Corporation has been operating.
None of this appeared to have shaken the firms though.
A strongly worded statement from Real Image Media, the firm that owns Qube Cinema, contested every one of the allegations, lambasting them as false and baseless. “Since we started in 2005, our costs have gone up, but we have absorbed those for the good of the industry and not raised our prices by much. Today, for a minimum run of one week, a producer can pay as low as RS 325 plus tax for a show, which works out to about `5.4 lakh a week for about 60 screens (which is what a small budget film releases on). This is barely 1.5 per cent of their 3.5 crore budget and something that can be made up by cutting back on just one day’s shooting. Is this worth disrupting a day’s work with a strike?” read the statement. They also outlined that when films were still being made on print reels, each one would cost Rs 80,000 in 2005, which would be considerably higher today given the inflation adjustment.
Real Image justified the ad revenue model as one that is followed across the world and reiterated that it was a contract between the theatre and the ad agency, not the producer.
At the end of the day’s fast, Abirami Ramanathan announced that the firms had agreed for a round of talks to ‘sort things out”.