D-Cinema (Digital Cinema) is growing in India. And the implications are not just for film producers, distributors, audiences and cinema hall owners, but for advertisers reaching out to film-going audiences as well.
Of about 12,000 theatres in India, only around two hundred have converted to suit the D-Cinema format. But this number is estimated to rise to 1,000 in the next one year, according to K Krishna, Senior Director - Marketing, DirecWay Enterprise Services, a platform from Broadband Service Provider Hughes Escorts Communications Limited.
He told exchange4media, "The initial resistance was because people wanted to see if it works. Now, D-Cinema service providers have begun signing agreements with theatres. The response from the advertising community has also been very good so far." HECL will provide Satellite Movie Delivery Systems for D-Cinemas in India.
The cost of converting a cinema hall to suit D-Cinema is pegged at Rs 8 to Rs 9 lakh. The three components to this are the projection systems (which consume about 40-50 per cent of this cost), the satellite movie delivery systems and the play-out systems. And with the advent of D-Cinema, advertisers can breathe easy. The reason being that the play list for the hall, including the adverts, will be dictated by the D-Cinema Service Providers, eliminating the hassle of physically distributing and monitoring the releases.
For film distributors, the cost of distribution will come down from an estimated Rs 60,000 per print of the film (and therefore, per hall), to Rs 3 lakh for any number of halls across the country.
According to the spokesperson, this will also result in curbing of piracy and speed to market.
In South India alone, the number of halls who have converted to D-Cinema format has touched 35, with more converting continuously. Recent Tamil blockbusters like Chandramukhi, Mumbai Xpress and Kadhal have all been distributed via satellite, in addition to the traditional route.
With piracy being a much larger issue in India than in the US, one wonders why D-Cinemas are taking so much time to establish their presence here. Krishna added, "The frame rate of display is adjusted to ensure that it can't be captured by conventional cameras. There are even watermarks, which are invisible to the naked eye, but are captured on camera when one attempts to shoot at a cinema. This can also help identify where the piracy happened." If only such a piracy-proof system of exhibiting creations could be formulated for fashion design, there'd be much less print space taken up by events like the recently concluded fashion week.
On the revenues for HECL on the DirecWay platform, DirecWay Enterprise Services contributes around 70 per cent currently, and its Global Education (approx. 25 per cent) and Fusion initiatives contribute the rest. The spokesperson also informed that the Global Education services were currently growing at 100 per cent Y-O-Y. Its Fusion brand of retail Internet outlets are currently around 100 in number, and the company hopes to ramp up this count to 2000 by March 31, 2006 - but without compromising on returns for the franchisees, added Krishna.