Telugu and Tamil film industries have been in a tussle with the Digital Service Providers (DSP), such as Qube and UFO, over the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) for a long time now and looks like it may not end anytime soon. A delegation of South Indian producers led by popular producer Suresh Babu met the DSPs in Bengaluru a day ago to negotiate and bring down the fee, however the talks are said to have failed leading to a decision which will have an enormous effect on the forthcoming releases in Tamil and Telugu. The delegation of producers has now decided not to release any films from March 2nd, 2018 to oppose the high fee being charged by the DSPs. DSPs, like QUBE and UFO, came in to picture after the projecting technology advanced from analog to digital in cinema halls. The DSPs installed their equipment in theatres directly for projection of films and charged the cost from producers directly. However, the cost of equipment was to be borne by the producers and cinema halls jointly, which led to change in dynamics.
The initial cost was to have a high Virtual Print Fee for 5 years and later lower it in order to make it viable to everyone involved in the process, – producers, theatres and DSPs. However, even after 12 years of coming into existence of DSPs, the fee was not lowered leading to this protest by the producers. Producers in Tamil films like S.R.Prabhu and Dhananjayan Govind have been aggressively leading these talks and are working rigorously to bring down the fee, but in vain. “It is technically supposed to cost me Rs 10 to 15 lakhs, but I paid Rs 35 lakh extra to get my film screened,” producer S.R.Prabhu said speaking about his latest release Aruvi.
The producers and the DSPs have been in loggerheads for a long time now and the decision to not release any films from March this year was taken long back unless the fee was reduced. However, the latest discussions between the two groups has led to stopping the screening of existing films in cinema halls. With big films like Mahesh’s Bharat Ane Nenu and Allu Arjun’s Naa Peru Surya lined up for release in March and April, things don’t look very favourable for the producers in the industries.