3d screens get a new 'avatar'

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 15, 2009 03:44 hrs

James Cameron's sci-fi release leads to a three-fold rise in such screens to 50.

It's little over a decade since the first Hindi 3D movie, Chhota Chetan, was released. Back then, in 1998, movie lovers were enthused by this new experience. But, the interest died when theatres could not adapt to this expensive technology and as a result producers became wary of producing 3D films.

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Now, a Hollywood science fiction epic, Avatar, from James Cameron, the maker of Titanic, has done what Bollywood could not do in years. It has convinced multiplex owners to ramp up the number of 3D screens before the movie hits the screens on December 18. In the last six months, most multiplexes and theatres have installed 3D screens with zest, bringing the count to 50 from 17 earlier. The 50 screens include those set up by PVR Cinemas, Big Cinemas, Inox, Fame India, Fun Cinemas and Cinemax India.

A 3D screen plays out images of the movie in three dimensions, giving the viewer an illusion of depth. Each multiplex has to provide special glares to the audience, which involves significant investment. According to an industry estimate, installing a single 3D screen costs Rs 40 lakh, while a normal screen costs 15 lakh. "It is a worthwhile investment since audiences want an enhanced movie-watching experience, especially for such flicks. Going by the promos of Avatar, the movie will have a huge opening," said Aditya Sharoff, assistant vice-president, Fame India. The investment will have to be covered by the cost of tickets, say multiplex owners. Most theatres will increase ticket prices by nearly 20 per cent, say industry sources. Says Vishal Kapur, COO, Fun Cinemas, "Avatar is a big film and most multiplexes have decided to convert their screens into 3D for this movie and for the 20-odd movies that will be released next year."

Fox Star Studios is set to release Avatar with a record 650-plus prints in India alone, in four languages: English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. This is the highest-ever for any Hollywood flick in India. Spider-Man 3, till date, has topped the list with over 550 prints, followed by Casino Royale, with 427 prints.

"The digital quality of the film is like never before. We are certain that Avatar will get a huge response and that's why we have decided to go for a mega release," said Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios.

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Avatar is a 3D science fiction epic film which stars Australian actor Sam Worthington in the lead role. "Avatar is a much awaited film, since it's James Cameron's. People still remember Titanic," said Devang Sampat, VP, Cinemax India.