60 days on, no unanimous decision on film producers’ strike

MUMBAI: The meeting between the United Producers and Distributors Forum (UPDF) and multiplex officials that was to be held today (Monday, 1 June) has been further postponed to Wednesday, 3 June.

Speaking to Businessofcinema.com, UPDF spokesperson Mukesh Bhatt said, "We are not meeting today or tomorrow as some of the members are not available. We will now be meeting on Wednesday at 8 pm to take a decision."

When contacted, Reliance BIG Entertainment chairman Amit Khanna too voiced the same.
Sources inform Businessofcinema.com that while, in principle BIG Cinemas has reached a middle path with producers and distributors, none of the other multiplex chains are in agreement with the terms that BIG has agreed to. As was reported by this website earlier, Khanna had pitched revenue sharing terms for Hindi films at 52:48 (producers:multiplexes) and 45:55 for the first and second week to multiplexes subject to certain conditions.

On the other hand, sources also inform that PVR Cinemas and Inox Leisure were being wooed by BIG Cinemas to agree to the terms offered by them to producers. "PVR Cinemas was supposed to agree to the terms today but seems like that hasn’t happened. Inox is also not in agreement with these terms," says a source.

Pertinent to note here is that for movies to have a fair nation-wide release, it is very critical that PVR Cinemas and Inox Leisure agree to the terms. The two chains jointly control 53 properties with 205 screens spread across India, which contribute approximately 50 – 60 per cent of the total box office collections from multiplexes. On the other hand, BIG Cinemas has 78 properties with 198 screens. At present, there are approximately 225 multiplexes and 850 screens in India and releasing movies in single screens along with the BIG Cinemas chain is not likely to be commercially viable.

A multiplex official, on condition of anonymity, says, "The situation looks very grim right now. We would rather close down our business than agree to the terms that have been put forth. Our business will bleed if we agree to these terms. Moreover, in every meeting a new point crops up and hence there is no outcome. Producers also want higher terms for a particular class of movies. We had put forth our terms to producers and distributors but we have no idea if they will be agreed on."

Additionally, a new twist in the tale is the complaint that has been filed with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against UPDF and other Hindi film producer associations by the Multiplex Association of India. A source informs, "Things might get more delayed due to this new development. The multiplexes are also scheduled to meet internally on Wednesday to take stock of the situation."

The Hindi film producers and distributors’ strike, which commenced on 4 April, has been going on for almost 60 days now. Bhatt is nonetheless hopeful that the matter will get settled soon. For the sake of the entire industry, one sure hopes that the matter is resolved ASAP.

(With inputs from MANISHA PRADHAN SINGH)