Mass screening pre-empts pirates

K.V. Kurmanath

Hyderabad, Sept. 28

Taking cue from Hollywood exhibition system, the Telugu film industry has begun mass screening of new releases of top heroes across Andhra Pradesh.

The idea is simple - cash in on the image of the top actors in the first two-three weeks and beat piracy before it cut into the revenues.

Big names

No wonder then only two films - `Stalin' and `Boss' - are being screened in more than half of the 2,150 cinema theatres in the State on this day. While the Chiranjeevi-starrer `Stalin' was released in 700 theatres with 400 prints, Nagarjuna's `Boss' hit nearly 400 screens with 240 prints.

The result was obvious. `Stalin' reportedly collected Rs 13.5 crore in the first five days, creating a record in the collections.

"This is the best way to curb piracy," leading producer, Mr Shyamprasad Reddy, told

Business Line

. "It is an effort to reach out all those who want to watch the film. If we don't do that pirated versions will do. Moreover, it doesn't matter for producers to make more prints for a big budget film," he added.

Film producers are also trying to utilise a Government sanction for increase of ticket prices by 75 per cent for the first two weeks.

Exhibitors differ

But the exhibitors have a different view. Mr Ramasubba Reddy, Chairman of the Exhibitors Sector of the AP Film Chamber, said, "It is okay, if a film released on that scale runs well. If it bombs, at least 50 exhibitors would end up in debts," he said.

Producers of such big films charge heavily from the distributors. "If the film fails, they lose heavily. Ultimately, it is the exhibitor who loses. He has to close the shop," he said.

"Earlier, they used to release a film in phases across A, B and C centres. With the new approach, some films are being screened in remote panchayats on day one itself. This would have a serious impact on the run of a film. Earlier, the towns used to attract viewers from nearby villages, giving a longer run. Now, this would change," he said. Mr Ramasubba Reddy called for self-regulation by the industry.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 29, 2006)
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