Bhrigupati Singh Given the levels of risk and contingency film distribution is in many ways a far more complex process to describe than exhibition. Also, since there are close links between distribution and exhibition, particularly in terms of ownership, it is not always possible to separate the imagination and practices of the two, as wholly different from each other. Kirit Desai, for example, took over not only Moti Cinema from Chotubhai Desai, but also the Billimoria Chotubhai distribution company and distributed films as recent as Roja and Maachis. One way the history of distribution could be written is to map it from a stage of concentration in the early days of cinema technology (in the hands of a few people like Seth Jagat Narain and Chotubhai Desai) to a subsequent dispersal. There are now more than a 100 distribution companies of varied scale, located in Bhagiratha Palace and the Moti Cinema compound area in Chandni Chowk. Let us look more closely at some aspects of the distribution trade at present.
First the basics - distributors usually bid for the rights to a film for a particular territory. India is divided into 10 distribution territories many of which are further divided into sub-territories. Delhi is part of the Delhi-U.P. distribution territory. According to people in the distribution trade, at one time Bombay, Delhi-U.P. and the Eastern Circuit (West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Orissa) were the three major circuits, the others being much smaller. In recent times, Bombay has become the only major circuit. It will be important to track the processes by which this transformation occurred. As a result of this change, a film's ratio is now measured as the price for which it is sold by the producers to a distributor for the Bombay circuit. The prices of other circuits are calculated as a percentage of the Bombay prices. Therefore, if Bombay is 100%, Delhi-U.P (considered the next in importance) is 80-85%. Interestingly, for an action film, Delhi-U.P. is also 100% or, in other words, it is a major circuit for an action film. This is clearly a case, where the imagination of a particular area and a kind of sociology of its population quite directly inflects trade practice. As an alternative to the process of bidding for a film, two arrangements are possible. At times a producer has a fixed arrangement with a distributor for a particular territory and doesn't place the film up for bids. Another (much rarer) alternative is that film producers have their own distribution companies. In the world of Bollywood films at present, three producers have their own outlets in various territories: Rajshri Pictures (a company owned by the Barjatya family which made Hum Aapke Hain Kaun), Mukta Shakti Combines (Subhash Ghai) and Yashraj P.P. Associates (Yash Chopra).
P. Further. stressing that a film like Filhaal was designed for upmarket. trends in the distribution trade. Aks and Filhaal among recent films) described his films as 'niche' products. determining the manner in which the film will be positioned in that area. Eagle Films Pvt. Uday Kaushish of Eurasia Visuals (Distributor of Lagaan. Ginni Arts. Any
. Sanjay Mehta of Bobby Art International. 'PVR type' audiences. Ginni Arts Distributors handling 2-3 films per year. Competent Films.Apart from being a liaison with exhibitors and deciding the halls in which the film will be shown. Deepak Arts. unavailability of a hall due to previous bookings. Mukta Shakti Delhi . one-to-one correspondence between these categories and actually existing trade practices. Honey Enterprises. Sultan Pictures Pankaj Raj Movies. Ajit Films (Gulshan Rai) Shivangi/ Sunny Film Network (Deol Family) Rajshri Films (Barjatya Family) Chand Pictures. Territory) if it was possible to categorise the vast number of film distributors in Delhi. Associates. (F. Devi Shakti Films. Raj Karan Movies
It is important to stress the shifting nature of this framework. A number of people in the cinema trade describe their practice as a game of flash. both of which he handled for Delhi-U. Bobby Arts International . Here is the framework he suggested: Distributors handling more than 6-8 films per year. where you play your hand 'blind'. we should not assume a transparent. on the other hand prefers distributing 'mass-based' films like Jodi No. Ekta Films Pooja Enterprises (films by Vishnu Bhagnani). the 'structure' of any framework with which we can describe the film trade is always fragile and subject to change.C. For example. availability of prints. Some distributors prefer associating themselves with particular kinds of films. Delhi-UP Distributors handling films for particular producers Distributors handling mainly older repeat run films (rights for the film ususally bought from the above three categories of distributors) Distributors handling mainly B Grade Foreign/Soft Porn Films) Eurasia Visuals .1 and Joru ka Gulaam. VIP Film Distributors. Thus. In practice the producer-distributor-exhibitor link often varies from film to film depending on a number of factors. while the various strands we have suggested in this document could work as a basis on which to make some broad generalizations.personal contacts and kinship networks. A number of factors . Charu Films. Yashraj P. the assumed 'success' rate of a hall. increasing rates of entertainment tax and various other factors invariably intervene in the network of linkages between the distributors and exhibitors. a distributor of a film is in charge of the publicity for the territory.P. Magnum Films. Ltd. Jyoti Films. Here again a typage of films comes into play. the 'threat' from cablewallahs. presently in Category 1 shot into the limelight with what a number of people in the film trade have described as the unexpected and astounding success of the Sunny Deol starrer Gadar.P.UP Combines .
What are the other ways in which we can locate the distribution trade? We asked Sanjay Mehta of Bobby Art International (one of the leading companies in the Delhi-U. Mehra). Saraswati Pictures. changes in technology.
all that the theatre owner. With post production accounting for 20% of the film budget and taking 20% of the total time. Distributors are the last link in the movie chain which take films to the people. PPHP hopes to do some justice to this complexity. works differently. He simply has to switch over to the one that the audience wants to watch.
Although distribution and exhibition are the end points in the value chain of the film business.
Film Distribution . The problem of physically moving the reels from one place to another does not exist.
If the estimate goes awry. making copies is as easy as clicking a button. given the high degree of contingency and complexity that characterises the field.
The digital world. The theatre owner will no longer be forced to show a movie that is doing badly. The copies are sent to various distributors in the country.
Further. Copies are made based on a guesstimate and the stakes are high. any savings in this would go directly to the bottom line.000 theatres enjoying a weekly admission of about 100 million people or 5000+ million per year. they are of utmost importance because "goofing" up at this stage means that the film . with overseas becoming a major territory and considerable costs associated with the same any savings in the distribution costs will be a great boon for film producers and distributors alike. Over the period of the next few months. no distributor knows the fate of the movie. before a film is released. however well made. The distributor buys into the risk with the producer. And. Distribution of films around the world has become such a big
. will be a flop at the "Box Office".Overview
India boasts of about 13.
Typically a distributor buys rights for a 'territory' and recovers costs from the exhibition of the film.description of the processes at work will always be partial. who in turn rent them out to theatre owners. The cost of distribution is significantly lower. the distributor or the producer can do about it is
grin and bear the costs. All it requires is a license to make another copy. Digitalization has the potential to bring in the desired savings and drive up profits substantially. however.
Film Buffs do not mind paying a few rupees extra if they will receive "Picture Perfect"
Every print is a perfect copy.
A primer on digital technology in film distribution
Digital cinema or eCinema or eMovies is the latest buzzword that has the potential to profoundly affect the distributors in the industry. a set of DVD-ROMS will cost as low as 8000/. All the quality issues from the right hue to color drift to print degeneration by repeated theatrical telecasts will be a thing of the past with the advent of digital technologies. Further .budget release chalks up print and distribution costs in excess of $15 million.
Other disadvantages of physical distribution are because of the high costs of making excess prints and because of the physical nature (rather than digital nature) of prints people in remote corners of the country deprived of seeing a hit film till the print is available for them. The benefits to distributors will be in the form of:
Print costs are currently about 15-25% of a film's production cost. production houses and exhibitors alike and gaining considerable marketshare at the expense of traditional film distribution. by the time bad publicity of a flop movie spreads it will have recovered a table profit. Further. Thus gone will be the days where the print is really bad if we don't see a movie in the first month. feature films can be projected in small to medium size theatres with DVD playback equipment . In USA. no more worries for theatre owners and exhibitors and distributors who have to physically carry the film reels from one theatre to another and time shows accordingly. release prints cost $2.
Electronic cinema like any disruptive technology has the potential of drawing the studios.000 rupees. if a movie is a flop then because the film is not simultaneously released (because of the physical nature of prints) all over the country at the same time bad publicity may spread and therefore no one may want to see the movie. Thus an average big.
The film could be released in more cinema halls simultaneously as the cost for the distributor is relatively high. thus enabling faster recovery of investment. Thus. With this. one of the six distribution territories within India. shipping and insurance add another $1.000 per print to the distribution costs.
Electronic cinema refers to film-less digital distribution and exhibition system of films using high quality digital projectors that are brighter and have higher resolution versions of video projectors. A print costs around 80.business that it fetches about as much business as Delhi-Uttar Pradesh.000 each.A whopping 90% saving.
Digital production will be completed in lesser time and thus speed up the entire process from finish to release as innumerable disks can be made in a day. Further. Imagine the benefit if these costs were slashed by upto 90%. movies as bitable digital data files will increasingly replace physical prints as the preferred medium of distribution.
It is expected that by 2005.
With tickets in US being priced at $8 and those in UK being priced at 8 pounds the collection from the 10 million population from overseas is same or more than the collection from the 150 million population in of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh .
a few theatres in New York began screenings of the "Phantom Menace" using digital technology.
It is not too big an increase in cost for new multiplexes. The idea was to demonstrate the potential of digital distribution. revenues can be kept high . There would be no operator errors and no operator manipulations. hence they can straight away jump from old projectors to state-of-the-art digital technology provided government provides tax benefits and these equipment get the status of infrastructure equipment .E. Thus. "Titan A.
. Why it will be accepted
Most of theatres in India have old projectors. foolproof reporting of playback data also prevents unauthorised shows. Further proliferation of digital technology happened when Miramax exhibited "An Ideal Husband" in the USA . thus it provides a strong safeguard against piracy. Haven't we all seen so many similar scenes in Movies like a sunrise in Mauritius or a view of the Savannahs .
Boost box offices. They used Texas Instruments and CineComm digital projectors for the test screening. which many believe will one day supplant traditional canisters of celluloid. and Cisco Systems Inc have digitally transmitted a Hollywood movie across the country over the Internet and then digitally projected to a cinema audience.
"Cut and Paste" leading to considerable time and cost savings. As has been said by all the gurus in the Internet world. a single screen can show multiple films and if audiences on a given night do not want to see "The Chick Flick ± Charlies's Angels" the theatre owner may switch to "Kasoor".
Every show can have watermarks indicating theatre. Just imagine the day when a movie is digitized at a central location and then transmitted to various theatres in the city at the same time thus avoiding the painful task of making countless prints and moving these prints from one place to another . Sometime in the middle of 1999. the economies of scale that can be achieved will be significant . Thus. Anyone who has gone to a Hindi movie in the US would have observed how the print is brought to the theatre just before the show and then taken to the next destination immediately after the show. As the compression technologies develop and prints are digitized.
Officials at 20th Century Fox Inc. feature films and advertisements can be pre-programmed." at Atlanta's Supercomm trade show . This experiment allowed lay audiences to see digital projection systems running real movies.. going from the studio in Hollywood to a theater in Atlanta without ever touching the film.the biggest problem faced by the film industry today. and to allow Fox to have the world premiere of its new animated feature.as all trailers. The Phantom Menace" is the first major studio film to be shown the E-Way. With the rise of digital technology.
Exhibitor is at greater ease of operation.
DVD ROMS cannot be decoded outside a Digital Cinema playback unit.Movies due to digital technology.
With files replacing prints. International experience
"Star Wars: Episode 1. while movie industry experts could compare competing projection systems operating in real theaters. industries where the final product can be digitized will be turned upside down. depending on audience taste. it will be possible to cut and paste any scene from a movie into another file a la Powerpoint and thus avoid expensive shooting overheads and star tantrums. time and date.
where it was projected on a Barco/Texas Instruments DLP Cinema digital projector. suited to digital cinema. Most probably since crores of Rupees will be at stake these differences will be surely sorted out.
Shekhar Kapoor's digital studio and Sony Corporation's digital motion picture camera are just the beginning . distribution and projection of movies. that once their films are upon the Internet. therefore. and. will take place at the "click" of a mouse. mass production will reduce the price to between $100. Conclusion
E-cinema envelops the entire process from filming to storage. As a result. When e-cinema really takes off in the country.
As of now capturing "Live Action" digitally is prohibitively expensive and while special effects are now created digitally.000 today. the film can travel instantaneously over computer networks in the "frictionless economy".
As for transmission. including fire walls. it will spark a revolution in the industry .
Obstacles that will have to be overcome to ready digital technology for the masses
Projector costs will have to drop quickly. the movie was hurled from Qwest CyberCenter in Burbank to the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. This will change as digital content dominates feature films. More films like "Raju Chacha" where digital technology is used will be created as costs fall.Using Cisco's latest technology.
The technology demonstrations have already started in India. making the industry more corporatised. a method for isolating and protecting data traveling across the internet. Multiple versions of a film exist with different scenes . all of which can be done digitally.
Another issue is that many in Hollywood think. live action is not..
. films being edited accurately after release.with remote controls . multiple language sound tracks and even multiple language sub-titles exist at the same time.
2006. transmission.000 by 2001. they will be pirated like music has been in recent months..
It probably only a matter of time till technology drives the change in the film world. While digital projector prototypes cost $250. EMovies will be successful only if arguments over cost sharing between exhibitors and distributors are sorted out . Cisco 7140 Virtual Private Network. security routers and encryption devices is being developed. now a complex affair. Film distribution. CineComm incorporates Qualcomm's patented compression algorithm and encryption scheme into its projection system to guard against piracy.. extra songs .
Dramatic reduction in distribution costs will cause industry wide encryption standards to become prevalent. The next year awaits the HDTV (high definition TV) telecine and mastering facilities.000 and $150.