Chennai : Film-maker Cheran’s ”JK Enum Nanbanin Vaazhkai” will be the first Tamil film to be released simultaneously on multiple platforms like DVDs, set top boxes and theatre on 15th January coinciding with the Pongal Festival. This novel idea has triggered an expectation in Tamil film Industry, as the success and failure of this model is likely to redefine the content distribution pattern in Tamil film Industry.
In similar manner C2H is expected to release a new film on every Friday on multiple platforms through this new media Venture and so far, five films Arjunanin Kadhali, Koditta Idangalai Nirapuga, Vaarayo Vennilavey and Appavin Meesai have been shortlisted to be released on this platform.
Speaking to Media recently Cheran said “The discs will be directly sold to households across Tamil Nadu through our dealers and distributors affiliated with C2H. This will hopefully negate the problem posed by piracy, and offset the losses faced by producers. I am confident the producers will get back their investment through this model,”.
The new initiative, though fraught with uncertainty, could change how business is done in the film industry. If it proves to be successful, it could alter the whole eco-system, including theatrical rights and satellite rights. In 2013, Kamal Haasan’s move to release Vishwaroopam on DTH parallel to theatrical release was fiercely and successfully resisted and restricted by theatre owners associations that argued it could further reduce their already depleting revenues.
When asked how he was planning to resolve this conflict, Cheran said he would release the film in a limited number of theatres. “It’s my product and I have a right to sell it where I want to. I have not spoken to exhibitors yet, but I am hopeful they will understand the problems faced by producers. All these films will be released in just 75 theatres,” he said.
However, there are people who are equally sceptical about the success of this new venture. When asked to comment on how viable the business would be, Ashoka Holla, director of Berserk Media, which markets Indian film content across platforms, said, “UTV attempted to deliver DVDs on the same day as its release in 2006, but it was not financially viable. Since DVDs or a DTH can be seen by entire families, the revenues will be lower. Add to that the marketing and production costs (of the DVD), and it seems unviable.”
While a viable business model is yet to emerge, Cheran remains optimistic about its success. “Based on our extensive surveys, we found that 62 per cent of the people were ready to do it. Our target is to sell 25 lakh DVDs,” he said.
Cheran’s view was also endorsed by Head of leading Motion Picture Company, who termed the idea attractive. “New films can be released simultaneously in home videos, as there are lakhs of homes, many of which will be interested to watch a new film on DVDs at home. If a distribution model is established and it starts generating sufficient revenues, the idea will be accepted eventually. In any case, the theatres are running with 30-35 per cent occupancy during weekdays. So, I don’t think this will seriously impact theatre business. This is just one way forward,” he said.
The President of Tamil film Producer’s Council, Keyar said the initiative was aimed at helping those producers who are unable to sell for lack of an opportunity. “This year, till December 31st, the Tamil film industry saw 219 new releases. Around 174 films were censored but not released. Cheran is trying to address the problems for these smaller film-makers and producers who otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to release or sell their film. Let us welcome the effort,” he said.
Even though Cheran is experimenting the new initiative with smaller films which were unable to find theatres, his efforts will succeed only if the movies released through C2H are good enough to impress the audience and make them to buy more movies of C2H releases continuously like a weekly magazine. Many producers are eagerly awaiting the result of C2H’s first movie release on 15th January so that they can also decide whether to explore the new distribution platform or to stick on to their existing model without rubbing shoulders with the theatre owners who are up against Cheran’s C2H.