The cinema halls have finally resumed operations in many states of India. It is expected that Maharashtra will also follow suit from November 1 following which viewers will get to see new film releases. Sadly, ‘acche din’ are yet to come fully as a tussle is going on between multiplex chain owners and producers. The filmmakers want changes in the pre-Covid arrangement with regards to revenue sharing and OTT release policy. The exhibitors don’t want any revision in the existing arrangement and this had led to a deadlock between both the parties.
In the midst of this, the makers of ’83, have reportedly approached the multiplexes with their list of demands they want fulfilled before their much-awaited sports drama can release. According to a trade source, their four major demands are as follows
– The producers want the VPF (Virtual Print Fee) to be waived off. It is an amount, usually Rs. 20,000 per screen, which is charged by multiplexes to the producers for upgrading their projection system for a better cinematic experience. Many producers believe that charging VPF is no longer necessary as the theatres have recovered the cost. Also, the fact that it’s charged from only the Indian films and not from Hollywood flicks has been a bone of contention between them for a long time. The makers, thus, want exemption from VPF.
– Secondly, they want ’83 to be played in the majority of the screens and in the majority of the shows. Theatres are allowed to run with only 50% occupancy at present and this arrangement might still exist by the time ’83 releases in cinemas. Moreover, it’s an expensive film and hence, the producers feel their demand is justified from the perspective of ROI.
– At present, the producers are required to withhold releasing their films on OTT platform till approximately 8 weeks from the theatrical release. In the past, the makers of Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana (2017) and 1921 (2018) tried to persuade multiplexes to allow them to stream their films early. But the multiplexes remained adamant. One of the first releases of 2020, Shimla Mirchi, directed by Ramesh Sippy, also tried its luck and ultimately, it didn’t release in multiplex chains. In the case of ’83, the producers have asked for a change in this rule. From the existing 60-day exclusivity window, they want it to be changed to four weeks.
– And lastly, they want an NOC from the multiplexes stating that in case their film fails to find sufficient audience in the first two weeks for any reason, then they should be allowed to release ’83 on OTT either under either the pay-per-view model or the normal subscription model.
The source further reveals, “The multiplexes are studying these demands but are not in the mood to agree. The producers feel they are justified in their demands as they have waited for so many months to bring out ’83 in cinemas. They could have opted for a direct digital release but they didn’t. Hence, they feel that they should get preferential treatment. Multiplexes on the other hand argue that they have suffered immensely due to the lockdown and didn’t earn a single paisa all these months. Hence, to arm-twist them when they are in such a deplorable situation is unjustified.”
It may be recollected that the multiplexes had differences of opinion with Vashu Bhagnani on similar issues which forced him to opt for an OTT release of the Varun Dhawan – Sara Ali Khan starrer Coolie No 1.
When contacted, Reliance Entertainment Group CEO Shibashish Sarkar, one of the producers of ’83, said, “We have not yet initiated the discussion. We’ll first finalize the release plans and once that’s confirmed, we’ll approach the multiplexes.” Meanwhile, P V Sunil, MD, Carnival Cinemas also maintained the same stance. He stated, “To my knowledge, the producers haven’t approached us. There has been no such demand from their side. And I hope they don’t put forward any demands either!”
’83, as the name suggests, is based on the Indian Cricket Team’s unbelievable victory in the 1983 Cricket World Cup. Directed by Kabir Khan, it stars Ranveer Singh along with Deepika Padukone, playing his wife. Actors like Tahir Raj Bhasin, Ammy Virk, Saqib Saleem, Hardy Sandhu, Sahil Khattar and others play the rest of the team members.