PVR signs for Jodhaa Akbar; others yet to follow


MUMBAI: Even after the incessant fracas between multiplexes and distributors over revenue sharing terms last year, there is still no respite in sight.


This time it’s over the biggest release of 2008 as yet – Jodhaa Akbar, which is directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar and stars Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The movie is slated to release on 15 February.


While a deal has been reached between PVR Cinemas and producers United Motion Pictures (UMP); no other large multiplex chain has agreed to screen the movie, until now. Single screens and smaller chains such DT, SRS and Prasad have been signed on.


Sources reveal that UMP is asking for a share of 50, 45 for first two weeks for the Bombay territory; whereas multiplexes are offering 48, 40.


Jodhaa Akbar is also UMP’s first release for this year. The company plans to release the film with as many as 1500 prints across 26 countries.


During the release of Taare Zameen Par and Welcome in December last year, multiplexes and distributors had not arrived on mutually agreeable terms until hours before the release of the two films.


When the two parties finally did reach middle ground, it was with a condition that these terms will have to be maintained for all movies in 2008 irrespective of the producer-distributor it comes from, or else PVR and Studio 18 too will get higher terms for Taare Zameen Par and Welcome respectively. This, however, was not penned down in any form of agreement but was communicated verbally.


UMP executive vice president marketing, communication and distribution Siddharth Roy Kapur declined to divulge revenue sharing terms being quoted by the company. He, however said, “Jodhaa Akbar is a big project for us and we do not wish to settle with terms lower than what we are asking for. As it is when Yash Raj’s Tashan will release, multiplexes will have to agree for higher terms. Also, there is no big release for the next five weeks, so I am sure multiplexes will agree at our terms. We’re asking only what we think is fair for a project like this.”


If this eventually happens, multiplexes will have to shell out the difference in revenue sharing terms that they paid PVR and Studio 18 for their movies.


PVR Film Cell CEO Ashish Saksena too refused to divulge the terms for Jodhaa Akbar. “They are mutually beneficial for both parties,” he said. PVR will open advance bookings on Sunday, 10 February.


Considering that UTV has at least 14 movies lined up for release till October this year, it remains to be seen what the outcome is this time round.