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DTH premier deal for Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam for Rs 40 crore

Move likely to curb piracy

Gireesh Babu  |  Chennai 

The deal for the premier show of actor, producer cum director Kamal Haasan's new movie through Direct-to-home (DTH) before its release in wide screens, is expected to be around the size of Rs 40 crore, according to film industry sources. Vishwaroopam, produced by his Raj Kamal Films at a budget of around Rs 95 crore, would be the first Indian film to be broadcasted through DTH prior to its release, that too for one time on a fixed price.

According to sources in the film industry, Kamal Haasan has finalised a deal with Tata Sky to air a single show of the movie prior to the release, for an amount of around Rs 40 crore. The movie is expected to hit the wide screens on January 11, 2013 and the plans are to broadcast it through DTH for only once almost eight hours before the release. The subscriber has to pay Rs 1,000 for this premier show.

An industry source said that Tata Sky could now share the movie with some other players including Reliance and Airtel DTH, thus making it available to more viewers, though the State's major DTH player, Sun Direct, part of Sun TV Network, would not air the movie. It is to be noted that the telecast rights for the movie has been bought by Jaya TV, affiliated to the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munntra Kazhagam (AIADMK). According to reports, Sun Group is working on similar model with another Tamil movie.

However, some other sources said that the talks with Tata Sky has failed for some reasons and the deal is expected to be signed with four other DTH players including Reliance and Airtel. They also said that the deal could also be a revenue sharing deal where around 75% of the revenue from the movie could go to the producer Kamal Haasan and the rest would be with the DTH firm.

Kamal Haasan and Tata Sky officials were not available for comment immediately.

It may be noted that the decision to run the premier in DTH before theater release has raised critisism from the movie theater owners' association, in Chennai who alleged that the DTH release would affect their business badly.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Film Producers' Council (TFPC) and South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce (SIFCC) has came forward supporting the move of the eminent actor cum producer, calling it as an experiment and an innovative move for the film industry to find one more revenue model.

“Kamal sir is taking 100% risk and the exhibitors are not going to loose any amount even if the model is failed. We welcome the decision of Kamal Haasan,” said Katragadda Prasad, ex-secretary, SIFCC in a press conference in Chennai. He said that the new movies following the model of is a rare chance, since many of the movies are made with local artists.

We welcome Kamal Haasan's decision unanimously and this will help to avoid the menace of piracy to an extent,” said A Kothandaramaiah, ex-president of SIFCC. This, if proven success, would support small budget film producers in at least getting their investment back.

There were concerns about the continuing power outage in the State except Chennai, which ranges from eight to 16 hours a day, would affect the attempt. The producers ruled out such a concern, saying that the movie is expected to be broadcasted in the night, during the time when there are not much power cuts.

Kothandaramaiah said that this year, around 148 films have been released so far compared to last year's total of 129 films. However, only eight films has become successful this year and many of them where small budget films. Around 62 movies has not even released even after the censor board approval, due to financial and various other reasons.

However, the move has its risk, since the number of DTH subscribers are miniscule, which he reveals in his latest statement. According to reports, he revealed that there are only around 3% of the total population in Tamil Nadu has DTH connection and out of which the expected subscription for the movie is only 1.5%. The film can not be recorded and it can be watched only once.

Some producers also raised their concerns whether other regulations including the entertainment tax of 30% and the type of censor certificate for the movie would create and issue for the initiative.

First Published: Mon, December 10 2012. 16:30 IST