Exhibitors win the fight for Vishwaroopam

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 10, 2013 19:51 hrs

In a new twist to the high drama surrounding Kamal Haasan’s new film, Vishwaroopam, the actor-director has postponed the release of the film to January 25. Curiously, the film will now be released in theatres first. According to the original plan, the film was supposed to have been released on the direct-to-home platform on Thursday and in theatres on Friday.

“On January 25, the movie will be released across 500 theatres in the state,” Haasan said in a statement, which had no reference to the DTH release. Haasan’s public relations officer said that the release would be first on theatres, but refused to comment further.

Ever since Haasan announced his plans to release the film on the DTH first, theatre owners and their association have been putting pressure on the actor, who is also the producer of the film, to reverse his decision as they felt it would affect their business.

While the actor has now decided to release the movie in theatres, the DTH players, who had signed to broadcast the movie ahead of its theatre release and had been promoting the premier heavily on their channels, are left clueless.

When contacted, executives of two DTH companies said that they are not aware of if the movie would be offered on DTH at all. “We spent money on promoting the film, but the mail we got from him (Haasan) today doesn’t say if we will be showing the movie. If we don’t get to show it before multiplexes, what’s the point of showing it at all? There will not be any royalty attached to it and the pricing will not be justified,” said an executive.

Another executive said his company has already started returning the money to some of the subscribers who had booked the screening.

Six DTH players – Dish TV, Airtel Digital TV, Tata Sky, Videocon d2h, Reliance Digital TV and Sun Direct – had signed with Haasan’s production company Rajkamal Films to premiere the movie on January 10. Earlier, it was announced that a subscriber has to pay Rs 1,000 for one show in Tamil, and Rs 500 for Hindi and Telugu. The date of the Telugu premiere was not announced.

Incidentally, today’s development comes after Haasan had held discussions with theatre owners on Wednesday late in the evening.

On Wednesday, Haasan had said in a press meet that the movie was his product’ and he alone could decide what he wanted to do with it. He also said that the movie would be released on the same day in DTH and theatres, although he did not disclose the release date. Yesterday’s decision, he said, was taken after listening to his friends’ and well wishers’ advice and also taking into consideration the availability of theatres in both the south and north India.

According to Haasan, DTH is a new revenue stream and the film industry should be open minded about it. Yesterday, he had also said that he would “not let down” his DTH business partners. He had also stated that he would be sending a legal notice to 13 people, including theatre owners who had threatened him against releasing the movie on DTH and who said the movie will be pirated.

The actor was under a lot of pressure from the exhibitors and theatre owners in Tamil Nadu ever since he announced that the movie would be released on DTH first.

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