Divya Trivedi

Mumbai, Sept. 5 The day is not far when sitting on a comfortable couch in your drawing room, you will see Keanu Reaves somersault through the air in

The Matrix

the same moment audiences in the US view it for the first time on their big screens.

Nobody disagrees that digital cinema is to enter Bollywood in a big way, least of all the film distributors.

Fun Republic, the entertainment company of the Essel group, is to add 1,000 digital screens to its existing bouquet of 90 digital and 50 analogue screens under Fun Cinemas in the next five years, Mr Atul Goel, Chief Executive Officer, said.

Cinemax will launch digital screens in the next two years, said Mr Devang Sampat, Vice-President, Marketing, Cinemax.

The company is in talks with producers for mutually sharing the cost of digital movies.

“For a digital platform in cinema, producers need to make more films digitally,” he remarked. Adlabs, an Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group initiative, is working on a new model for its digital cinema chain that will be ready by December. Currently, the company operates 20 to 25 digital screens in Maharashtra while it operates 600 screens under its digital arm — United Film Organisers (UFO) Moviez.

An investment of Rs 15 lakh is required to set up a single digital screen, according to Mr Manmohan Shetty of Adlabs.

The cost per seat in a theatre is Rs 60,000 and hence the cost to set up a digital screen will not vary substantially from setting up an analogue projection system, he explained.

Via satellite

Mr Sudhir Mishra, who has directed films such as

Hazaaron Khwaishay Aisi

, said that the digital camera ‘Red’ is already available in the US.

“The digital revolution is going to come to Bollywood as well and when it does, a person will be able to receive the film via satellite the same day of its release in theatres worldwide, assuming that he can afford it,” he said.

This will also open up the market in B and C towns by saving on the print cost, which is Rs 60,000 plus.

Mr Mishra says the lack of proper infrastructure and low quality of digital technology in India today are restricting the production of such films.

Apart from penetration in smaller markets, digital cinema is expected to bring economy in the production of films, said Mr Sampat. “It will help cut costs by saving on the heavy printing expenditure.”

Mr Shetty feels that the digital revolution will help cut costs in a small budget film but not big budget ventures.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 6, 2007)
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