Home Videos: An Industry Overview

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MUMBAI :Home theatre systems offer more with every model; prices keep falling, the sound quality gets better and the need for conventional theaters gets threatened even more. With a great movie experience available in our own living rooms the market for home videos heats up with competitors battling for rights to release DVD and VCD versions of movies with competitive prices to beat not only rival camps but also piracy.

In India, though the market is not completely developed it does have its own niche with major labels like Shemaroo, Ultra and Bombino ruling the front for sales of home videos. In a conscious attempt to curb piracy these companies offer superior print qulaity with reasonable prices but still face a tough time competing with the massive pirated video market. The original home video is only 3 per cent of the total market with 97 per cent in the hands of the piracy pirates.

The pirated market is dominated by local video parlors where pirated copies of movies are given out on rent regularly. Cable operators too play hand in this folly by playing new releases on cable just to keep customers happy. The only way companies can compete is by slashing their prices and with faster releases of new movies in the home video format. Some have suggested simultaneous release of movies in theaters and home video markets but from the point of view of the industry, keeping a gap between DVD and theater release is essential because movies that don’t gather steam in their theatre release are most likely not to gather steam for a video release either, making simultaneous releases futile and thus leaves no alternate market to make up the losses.

What’s interesting to know is that how these companies choose which movies to launch in the home video catalogue. Does one focus on movies that were hits because people will be more inclined to buy them or just any movie that had a good buzz about it. A little known fact is that Austin Powers, a movie that did moderately well at the box office grew a cult following on its home video release initializing a trilogy with each subsequent movie doing better than the last. Zareer Wadia, director of Bombino says that it is not only box office performance but also star cast that determines which labels are sold, he added that Lamhe a movie launched in 91 sells very well even though it did not do exceptionally well at the box office.

Another less known problem faced by the home video industry is “Official Piracy”, as put by Zareer, where companies continue to distribute movies to which their rights has expired therefore they sell the movies at a lower price and shopkeepers with their own interest in mind go for the best seller giving companies that have paid for the rights to the movie major troubles.

Some speculate that may be one day the home video industry will over run theaters with its advantages of home settings with no queues and no worries of getting good seats, but most people will agree that watching a movie on the big screen is a different experience altogether and if a movie is good then people will want to watch it in the theatre, and also keep a copy for themselves as well.