“One of the most important steps that can stop piracy in the domestic market is digital cinema,” said the Information and Broadcasting Ministry Secretary Asha Swarup at the inaugural session of FICCI-Frames on March 25, 2008. FICCI obviously has been thinking on similar lines, and on March 26, 2008, a session was dedicated only to discuss the importance of digital cinema in the country.
Digital cinema in India is expected to change the face of “traditional” cinema business, just as Internet and mobile have changed the face of communication. Not only are computer graphics imaging or 3D animation picking up, film content itself is going digital with more graphics and visual effects. Digital cinema envisages providing a high definition cinematic experience using computer servers, telecom and satellite technology.
Don Savant, GM, APAC, IMAX Corporation said, “About 11.5 per cent of India’s total box office revenues for Harry Potter came from one single screen. IMAX today boasts of 300 plus theatres across 40 countries. The new IMAX digital theatre system delivers unparalleled quality.” In layman language, digital cinema is the projection of feature films digitally without celluloid.
Senthil Kumar, Real Image, Director informed, “In India, about 75 per cent of content is the domestic film business and Hollywood films account for only seven to 10 per cent of the total box office revenues.” On a more positive note, he said, “Over 10 per cent of the total screens in the country are digital in nature. Also, a lot of content is available digitally in languages like Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Gujarati and Marathi amongst others.”
D-Cinema, a reference to DCI quality, is probably the next ‘big thing’ with companies like Scrabble, Adlabs, Sathyam Cinemas, Pyramid Saimaira, E City and Cinemeta joining the league of digital format screens. D-Cinema is the only format in which Hollywood films are released today. Patrick Vons Sychowski, COO, Adlabs Digital Cinema took on the dais next and appealed to all the multiplex players to come together to take the digital cinema penetration in the domestic market to the next level.
“The total number of digital cinema worldwide has increased from 4394 in January 2007 to 6071 in January 2008. This increase clearly shows a growth of 38 per cent in the year,” said Tony Adamson, Worldwide Marketing Manager, DLP Cinema Products.
Makrand Karanjkar, CTO, UFO Movies said, “The digitalisation of cinema has also streamlined the distribution of cinema through satellite technology to geographically remote places and this has reduced piracy of the films as people get to see the original print in no time. However, Tan Ngaronga, COO, Sathyam Cinemas, expressed his concern that the transition to digital format still remains an issue that needs to be addressed. He said, “Access to digital prints need to improve.”
All experts on the panel said that the impact of digital cinema would be positive in the entertainment industry, as this would lead to increase in the number of movies, which kicks off a chain reaction leading to increase in the numbers of cinema-goers, and hence the theatre revenues.