“Superstar Kamal Hassan is firm on his decision to release his film, Vishwaroopam, on DTH (Direct- To- Home) platforms eight hours prior to its release in theatres. In fact, Hassan is charging a whopping price of Rs 1000 on the one time screening that will be available on DTH networks.
What will be interesting to watch is, if viewers will barter the theatre experience for the drawing room sit back. Even if tickets for three often add up to Rs 1000, one is willing to pay for the big screen not a small TV experience. The large flat screen that, perhaps, Kamal is targeting is a luxury that few homes in India enjoy.
STAR India CEO Uday Shankar disagrees. “It is a very strategic and disruptive move by an industry veteran. All that Kamal Hassan is doing is to create a super premier which will be very niche but very impactful. The pricing is a statement both for the movie and the opportunity and for the fans of Kamal Hassan, wouldn’t be too high. The industry has always benefitted from such disruption and I think once again both the film industry as well as the film lovers will benefit from it. I don’t think it will have any impact on the theatrical potential, if the movie is successful. If anything, it might work as a powerful multiplier,”.
Harit Nagpal, Managing Director & CEO, Tata Sky Ltd, sees the move as just one other opportunity thrown up by technology and sees no threat to theatre collections whatsoever. “Kamal Hassan has spotted the opportunity thrown up by technology. Before DTH, the opportunities to monetize films were first limited to only theatres. Then came the DVD, giving producers another opportunity to monetize. With it came TV channels as well. Typically, a film would release in the theatres for a 4 week run, move to paid DTH for a week or so, and then to the movie channels on TV. What Kamal Hassan has seen is the non-duplicable and non-replicable aspects of DTH, which means there is no danger of piracy, unlike the case with DVDs. With this one-day airing at Rs.1000, Kamal Hassan is just taking advantage of the new window,” feels Nagpal.
Nagpal dismisses the threat to theatre collections. “With this premium pricing, the kind of people who will pay this are not the kind who will queue up to buy tickets at the multiplexes. In a way, these are new audiences, who will, because of their capacity to influence opinion, talk up the movie if they enjoy it and theatres would gain,” says Nagpal.
Nagpal also brings the volumes into perspective. “Even if 5000 people choose to watch the movie at home on DTH, that is just about a day’s capacity at a single multiplex. How can this number, then, be a danger to theatrical collections?”
On the pricing, Nagpal says that this is an example of price discovery. It might work at Rs 1000, it might be overpriced, and it might be underpriced.
What Nagpal is clear about is that, since technology has made this new monetization window available, if Kamal Hassan had not done it, someone else would have, sooner or later.
Welcome to the world of premium-priced movies in the comfort of your home. Watch the movies in your shorts, fix your self a drink and ask the maid to serve the snacks.
Your home is now your theatre!