Percept Picture Company’s Hindi film 8x10 Tasveerand Paramount Pictures’ Fast & Furious 4, both released in India today (April 3), might be the last two films to open before India’s United Producers Forum begins its strike against multiplex owners from April 4.
Producers and distributors are demanding a 50:50 revenue-sharing deal with the multiplexes, regardless of cast or production budget, as opposed to the current variable week-on-week percentages.
For their part, multiplex owners say that the software currently being supplied is below par as evidenced by current occupancy rates.
Priti Shahani, senior vice president of producer-distributor Indian Films, which has rescheduled three of its releases, said: ‘The dialogue is ongoing and we are always hopeful of a favourable solution for both sides. However any film needs about six weeks to promote itself and even if an agreement is reached soon, it is unlikely any film will be able to release before May.’
Besides the revenue-sharing terms, producers are also demanding that revenues from tickets sales be remitted promptly. ‘They should remit the money within seven days but it sometimes takes up to 120 days to get our dues. Also the multiplexes do not allow us to release a film as per our distribution strategy but dictate their own terms,’ Shahani added.
While US studio reps in India preferred not to comment, Indian producers are optimistic of their support.
Single screens remain available for releases. However many areas, especially newly developed townships, are serviced only by multiplexes.
Eros International’s March 27 release Aa Dekhen Zarawas the first casualty of the impasse and was forced to release in single screens only.
Alok Tandon, COO of the Inox multiplex chain, said: ‘We are hopeful a solution will be reached though it might take multiple meetings. The producers and distributors need to understand that we cannot put all films on the same platform. It would be preferable to find a performance-based model for revenue sharing. Quality of content has affected us adversely. Footfalls increase with good movies.’
It seems that each side is waiting to see who blinks first.