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Cinema halls might be stubbornly shunning actor-director Kamal Haasan’s latest movie, Vishwaroopam, over his attempt to pre-release it on direct-to-home (DTH), but, at the same time, some hotels are becoming makeshift cinema halls, by screening it on their DTH, bundled with drinks and dinner.
This new form of piracy, via mini-public screenings, was much dreaded by the producers. The veteran actor, who has won many national awards, as well as acclaim for his offbeat movie, is also attempting to revolutionise the movie distribution model.
Haasan has signed with multiple DTH players to offer the movie on the platform one night prior to its theatrical release. The Tamil version of the movie is available for Rs 1,000 on DTH on the night of January 10.
While this has drawn criticism from cinema exhibitors, it has turned out to be an opportunity for hotels to make a quick buck and attract customers. Some plan to offer the movie screening at a discounted rate. One such hotel has advertised an offer of screening the movie with buffet dinner, for Rs 300 per person, on January 10 between 9 pm and 11 pm. This is a very popular model with cricket matches and other sports.
Already, Haasan’s decision has alienated cinema exhibitors, who argue that once the movie is out on DTH, consumers will not go to theatres to watch it. The Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners’ Association has threatened none of Haasan’s films would be released in any theatre across the state as it would set a precedent, leading to the closure of theatres.
Some producers also share the same fear. “While it seems an innovative idea in the long run, the immediate shortcoming is that you cannot control who is watching the movie and where. This could give rise to mini-screenings and the economy of cost per eyeball will lose all the balance,” a senior executive of a film studio said.