The "digital revolution" hype and indies

This Hindu Business Line report states Fun Republic, the Essel Group exhibition and retail property company has plans to launch a 1000 screens in the next five years. If you ignore the cheerleading and the hype that typifies Indian media coverage today (“The day is not far when sitting on a comfortable couch in your drawing room, you will see Keanu Reaves somersault through the air in The Matrix the same moment audiences in the US view it for the first time on their big screens.”) some interesting points can be dug out. Cinemax, the report claims:

…is in talks with producers for mutually sharing the cost of digital movies.

This is unlike the strategy of UFO Moviez who merely provide the platform and expect the producers/distributors. Manmohan Shetty of Adlabs also informs us that digital cinema will benefit the small budget film and not the big budget ventures. By “small budget film” I am sure Shetty meant indies and not the cinema conglomerates such as Adlabs, Yash Raj.

Contrary to received wisdom, this may not be the blue pill that the small budget film had hoped for. Big budget players sink money not just into production but a key component of the budget is marketing and promotion. Aided by the money that goes into promotions and the last mile, synchronised delivery of films means the promotion costs can be simultaneously recouped from a wider audience net. Digital Cinema will help them extract the weekend share of the wallet from Mumbai as well as Machilipatnam. Yes, the indies can get their films across to Mapusa, but that still leaves them with the problem of getting the audience to part with their money.

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