Film producers, theatre owners at loggerheads over VPF row

Producers want Virtual Print Fee to be taken care of by the theatre owners
Film producers, theatre owners at loggerheads over VPF row

CHENNAI: Filmmaker Bharathiraja, who heads the Tamil Film Active Producers Association (TFAPA), announced on Monday that there will be no new Tamil releases until the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) charges demanded by digital service providers like Qube are taken care of by the theatre owners.

In a press release, Bharathiraja mentioned that all the producers are unanimous in this decision as the service providers have not paid heed to the five demands raised by the TFAPA. He also clarified that the producers are willing to pay only the one-time charge, which would include the price of mastering, cloning and delivering.

Reacting to Bharathiraja’s request, Tiruppur Subramaniam, the president of the Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Association, told Express, “We have no other option but to keep the theatres shut if producers are going to be at loggerheads with us.” He also added that theatre owners are willing to have a discussion with producers only after six months.

“Until then, the producers must stick to the status quo in order for theatres to function. We have formally communicated this to them. But they haven’t acknowledged it yet. The audience will get a clarity on the status of new Tamil film releases and reopening of theatres positively around Friday, if the producers get back to us.”

Also, Ruban Mathivanan, managing partner, GK Cinemas, Chennai, said, “Payment of the virtual print fee is between the content provider and service provider. Both producers and the service providers like Qube must come to a consensus. Theatre owners do not have a say in the content. We will run the content irrespective of who gives it to us. This issue is between the producers and the service providers to solve.”

Suggesting another alternative, Naveen Sriram, an assistant cinematographer, said the producers could share VPF. “Or sometimes, there will be an agreement between producers and theatre owners on the share of money they take from the sale of tickets among others. Similarly, they can work out an agreement for this and share the costs.”

Theatres in Tamil Nadu were indefinitely shut on March 16 due to the lockdown imposed because of the coronavirus outbreak. After seven months of shut down, the State government recently announced a relaxation to reopen theatres on November 10.

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