New Delhi: From celluloid prints to digital format, the Indian cinema and its distribution channel has come a long way. But, now taking a step further, the Indian cinema industry is slowly turning a new leaf in the distribution network, ‘satellite distribution of movies.“
“India is a country with diverse geographical conditions and difficult terrain. Hence, satellite delivery takes care of all logistical problems associated with film distribution and exhibition. It ensures that even the remotest corners of the country receive all films - first day, first show. Also it builds in a lot of flexibility with regard to theatre programming. It is equivalent to Video on Demand,” says Raaja Kanwar, Vice-Chairman, UFO Moviez, specialising in distribution of movies through satellite. It recently won the ‘Innovation award in Indian Cinema´ at IIFA Awards in Yorkshire early this month.
Sensing, the future growth prospects of the technology and also the cost cutting factor, major cinema theatre groups are now planning to enter the satellite distribution market.
“We view it as a critical market. We are already using the latest digital format. Satellite distribution is something for which we are in talks with some companies. But, by next year, we might just have our own satellite distribution company for our own theatres,” says Ashish Shukla, Chief Executive, PVR Cinemas, the largest multiplex chain in the country.
According to industry estimates, there are nearly 1,500 screens in India which currently use satellite to relay movies directly to the screens.
“The emergence of digital cinema is now causing a revolution in the Indian motion picture industry. Digital cinema, also known as e-Cinema, is the projection of film through a digital video system. Recording of movies onto electronic media instead of film enables almost instantaneous distribution of these films to theaters,“ says an executive with Hughes, another major player in the Indian satellite distribution market.
“Digital or satellite distribution is beneficial both for the cine goers as well as the filmmakers. One gets to see news films at the right time and there would be standard quality on audio and video across geography including B & C, tier II and tier III areas, ” says P.S. Saminathan, Managing Director, Pyramid Saimira Theatres Ltd (PSTL), a Chennai based digital entertainment company.
Also, this will bring non-film contents to theatres. As far as filmamakers are concerned, digital distribution will make entire film to have simultaneous release thereby reducing the risk of the film significantly,” he adds.
PSTL, which has 29 multiplexes and 325 screens, has already tied up with many multiplexes in construction in North India.
“We plan to concentrate in Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, and Rajasthan regions initially. We expect the entire market to go completely digitalized in the next three to four years. Towards this end, we are also assuming huge capacity for satellite distribution to our theatres,” adds Saminathan.
With satellite distribution, piracy, one of the main concern of the cinema industry gets reduced. “Since, there is no print or any diskette, chances of piracy gets reduced. Moreover, since everything works out to be cheaper in the long run,” says a senior executive with a distribution network firm.