Category Archives: Bollywood

Digital Cinema Firm Tries to Block “Fast & Furious 7″ India Release

Fast and Furious 7

UPDATE: 4:30am IST – KSS claims that the CCI has ruled in its favour. Details at the end of the story. 

Cinema service provider KSS (K Sera Sera) has filed an injunctive petition with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to block the release of “Fast and Furious 7″ in India, alleging ”cartelisation of distribution”.

While NBC Universal has not given a reason for its alleged refusal, it may be shying away from using KSS for a historic reason; the Vice President of Technology at KSS was previously implicated in the piracy of a major Bollywood film in his prior job.

KSS Ltd notified the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) yesterday (30th of March) that K Sera Sera Digital Cinema Private Limited (KKS Ltd’s wholly owned subsidiary) had filed a petition with the CCI to stay (i.e. block) the release of “Fast and Furious 7″ (called “Furious 7″ in India), which is scheduled to open in India on the 2nd of April.

KSS alleges in a press release (PDF link) that NBC Universal Media distribution has restricted the right of digital conversion of the film (i.e. encoding and distribution) to two Indian service providers; UFO Movies Media Ltd. and Real Image Media. In addition, KSS claims that its its technology is “at par” with that of UFO and Real Image, meaning there is should be no technical reason to withhold the movie from its network.

Using the kind of turn of phrase usually found in classic gangster films, KSS starts off its press statement by saying that “The release of Fast and Furious 7 (renamed as Furious 7) may encounter some brakes over distribution problems.”

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 4 March 2014

“A grocery store and a cinema are two things that are a foundation for good downtowns.” – David Gordon, professor at School of Urban and Regional Planning at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada

Prima Cinema

We don’t normally cover home cinema here at Celluloid Junkie, but when Imax and Prima Cinema start delivering first-run films directly to the homes of the 1%, it is worth taking notice. Imax had previously announced intention to target home, though it was expected to focus on the elites in emerging markets like China, but have already completed their first US installation:

Mega-movie giant Imax Corp. installed its first signature curved, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screen in a home theater in Los Angeles in November. The cutting-edge system, including 4K ultra-high-definition technology — four times more crisp than high definition, or HD — and laser-aligned surround sound, starts at $2 million. … Some homeowners may erect a separate building specifically for the home theater, as was the case with the one installed in November. But, typically, there’s no space crunch. “We’re catering to a fairly elite crowd who generally do have enough space within their existing home — or they’re in the process of building a new home,” Lister said.

No surprise there. Meanwhile the first-run-movies-to-the-home operator Prima Cinema (in which Imax recently acquired a stake) has so far only signed up Universal and Paramount, as well as several smaller studios. Their system and films don’t come cheap.

Prima’s technology alone costs $35,000 to install. That’s about $5,000 to $10,000 more than the typical cost of an entire home theater. Prima insists that homeowners have certain accouterments, including a sophisticated projector and at least a 100-inch screen. The movies don’t come cheap. Prima Cinema charges $500, or $600 for a 3-D film, for each viewing.

Freedman Home Cinema

Karen Freedman In Her Pricy Home Cinema

The target is not so much the 1% as the 0.1%, identified as: executives, entrepreneurs, heads of investment funds, sports team owners, celebrities and pro athletes. For the couple in question (and pictured above):

Karen and Jeffrey Freedman spent about $500,000 last year to join two rooms in their 7,000-square-foot, five-bedroom Los Angeles home, structurally reinforce the new space and build their soundproof theater. That included installing the Prima technology. The Freedmans’ theater was designed by VIA and Paradise Theater. Karen Freedman is an asset manager for a commercial real-estate firm; Jeffrey Freedman is an entertainment industry executive.

Jeffrey is a lawyer for CAA, to be precise. Looks like the type of swish screening room studios have. Surefire way to impress your friends and clients. LINK


Bubbelbad Bioscoop

Netherlands: Hot Tub Movie Club, the London phenomenon, is soon coming to Amsterdam. From 6 to 9 March you can, along with five friends soaking in one of the 21 hot tubs in the Hot Tub Movie Club. This is also the largest direct hot tub event ever organized. For the ultimate cinema where to make is also thought to be a waiter service to the hot tub and the movie will appear in two cinema screens. A film Benelux March 6 bites the ball rolling with the film premiere of Best Night Ever. LINK
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India’s New Censor Board CEO Faces Industry Revolt

The role of a censor/certifier is not an easy one in any country.

It is a tightrope walk between filmmakers and demanding audiences seeking freedom of artistic expression and right to view age-appropriate content on one hand, and concerned parents and moral guardians on the other worried about the influence of sex, violence and bad language on the big screen, while balancing on a precariously slack rope of constantly shifting cultural norms. Even so, the appointment of a new CEO seems to have stirred up an exceptional amount of bad feelings in India.

Rakesh Kumar formally took over the role of heading  the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) last Friday, as noted in the Times of India. His previous qualification for the role was, well, none. Other than that he goes to the cinema sometime. He was previously Indian Railways Personnel Officer (IRPS) and his bio reveals that before that he was Managing Director of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC). Prior to which he worked as Executive Director(Passenger Marketing) and Executive Director (Efficiency & Research), Ministry of Railways, having gained a post-graduate in Physics from Lucknow University (1975) and an MBA graduate from Patiala University (1993). So how did his career get side tracked (see what we did there?) into deciding what films are appropriate for which audiences.

The answer lies in the murky underworld of patronage and appointments that underpins much of Indian politics and bureaucracy. As noted in the TOI:

Like his predecessor Pankaja Thakur, Kumar is also a rank outsider in that he has not worked as a regional officer in CBFC, to have some knowledge of film censorship. It may be recalled here that Pankaja Thakur has gone back to her parent department – customs and central excise after she completed her three-year tenure as the CEO. Rakesh Kumar will also have a three-year term to serve.

So while it is not unusual for ministers in other countries to change departments as separate as Transport and Culture, it is unusual for civil servants that typically specialise for years in one filed to do so. Kumar did not help his case by giving an interview to the Mumbai Mirror, headlined ‘It’s Time for a Clean Up Act’, where he was given ample celluloid to hang himself by spouting off about what currently bedevils Hindi cinema. It is worth quoting the Q&A at length:

Mumbai Mirror: What’s your take on today’s films?

Rakesh Kumar: The seriousness in content is missing. Filmmakers are pushing the envelope a bit too far. They tell us, “Whatever we show is happening in our homes.” But what is happening in their homes is not necessarily happening across the country. So it cannot be the yardstick. I seriously don’t think Ranbir Kapoor should have shown his middle finger and bared his butt in Besharam. I also felt that given his reputation, Aamir Khan shouldn’t have produced a cussloaded film like Delhi Belly(pauses).

MM: Go on…

RK: My wife and I walked out of Agneepath in the interval because it was just too gory. Gangs of Wasseypur had terrible language and Vishal Bhardwaj retained Arshad Warsi’s sex scene in Dedh Ishqiya despite us ordering him to blur it out. It was only when we told him that we’d be forced to make a police complaint, did he edit it out.

After watching Shudh Desi Romance, my five-year-old daughter asked me, “Dad, isn’t there too much love in this movie?” More recently, I went to see Yaariyan with her and came out visibly embarrassed. Now, I have decided not to see even a U/A film with my kid.

MM: How do you plan to change things?

RK: I called a meeting of my Regional Officers and have told them that I am not happy with the way certain things are going.

MM: Are you in favour of removing ‘No Smoking’ disclaimer?

RK: No, Anurag Kashyap has to follow the law of the land. He has challenged it in court but he is unlikely to win the case.

MM: How will you make adult content suitable for TV viewing?

RK: If you have content like Grand Masti, I wonder how much would remain after we clip.

MM: But the film did well…

RK: Then pornography, which has a huge market in India, should be included in films to make them work better in the box-office.

The outcry amongst filmmakers, newspapers, critics, social media and cinema goers was almost instant.

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Cricket Won’t Play In Indian Multiplexes As Film Strike Worsens

Indian multiplexes will not be able to offset the impact of the film strike/boycott/non-releasing with screening of Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches. The imminent IPL season was anyways going to put a damper on the box office for the next six weeks, but with Hindi producers refusing to release any new films, screening of cricket matches would have provided some respite for the multiplex operators.

From the Economic Times:

A senior executive with a Delhi-based multiplex chain, who did not wish to be quoted, said, “The IPL committee was asking for a very high price as minimum guarantee, in addition to revenue sharing arrangements. This is not a financially viable business model that multiplexes operate on.” He added that multiplexes can’t hike ticket prices significantly as that would not help in attracting volumes.

As per another senior executive with a company that was looking to bid for the multiplex distribution rights, IPL was looking at a minimum guarantee of Rs 35-45 crore and was awarding the distribution rights only for a year.

“Since the matches are happening in South Africa this year, it would have been an even bigger business opportunity for multiplexes, distributors and advertisers,” UFO Moviez CFO Kapil Agarwal said. The digital cinema solutions firm had evinced interest in providing back-end technology for live telecast of the matches at multiplexes.

Meanwhile, there appears to be no end in sight for the stand off between producers and multiplex operators. Though no major films were set for release during the IPL tournament anyway, there are no dangerous signs of post-IPL releases getting pushed back. From Times of India:

Films like Shortkut, Luck, Kaminaay, Kambakht Ishq, New York and Love Aaj Kal are a few biggies awaiting release. Going by last year’s IPL record, all but one film (Jannat) released during the matches bombed. Then, Ramzan begins on August 22 and most producers won’t release during the holy month. That leaves about two-and-a-half clear months for movies to release between the IPL and Ramzan. “The current situation is so fluid that one can’t say anything definite,” says Dinesh Vijan, Saif Ali Khan’s partner on Love Aaj Kal. “Movies with release dates slotted for May have been postponed. We intend to stick to our scheduled release date (June 26) and hope this situation gets sorted out soon,” he adds.

Trade sources confirm Vipul Shah had chosen August 14 as his release date for London Dreams. The producer had assumed he would get a clear run until Ramzan, and even further. “Now that films are being moved from their original release date; there is going to be a big clash from the time the strike lifts,” says Mehra.

CNBC-TV18 does a good job of crunching the numbers of what the multiplexes are losing from the current standoff:

Here’s the math:

The big-five multiplex chains together have 1.62 lakh seats. Each seat screens at least 4.9 shows a day, that’s 34.3 shows a week. This means every week, 54.55 lakh seats are available to generate revenues.

But weekly occupancy levels at most multiplexes stand at around 27% even with higher rates on weekends and holidays. This leaves just 16.36 lakh seats that actually generate revenues.

On average, a seat at a multiplex generates Rs 121 per show, with an additional Rs 31 on food and beverage. That’s a weekly revenue of around Rs 24 crore for the big-five chains.

INR 24 crore (Rs 240m) works out to almost $5m per week, which is a LOT for the nascent Indian multiplex industry. Meanwhile producers have floated the idea of each production house ‘adopting’ a single screen cinema and refurbishing it to multiplex standard, though how much substance or chance of realization such a proposal has is open to speculation.

Meanwhile, Bollywood stars like Shahrukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty – who have tended to side with the producers, perhaps not surprisingly given that many of them have their own production banners – can afford to take a relaxed attitude about both films and cricket’s no-show on multiplex screens at least for now as they own stakes in the competing cricket teams. Moreover from AFP:

Action hero Akshay Kumar is brand ambassador for Delhi Daredevils, movie hearthrob Hrithik Roshan is flying the flag for the Mumbai Indians, while screen siren Katrina Kaif is supporting the Bangalore Royal Challengers.

Top performers and music directors have also got in on the act, producing music videos for many of the teams that owe much to Bollywood’s song and dance routine tradition.

In their oversized filmstar sunglasses and designer clothes, Shetty, Zinta and Kaif added much-needed glamour to the gathering of corporate suits at the auction for new players in the resort state of Goa earlier this year.

For the actors, many of whom who have been making the rounds at promotional events before the start of IPL’s second season, merging cricket and film makes perfect sense given the fanatical following that both have on the subcontinent.

As Shilpa Shetty correctly observes, “Cricket is not a sport in our country, it’s a religion.” But if multiplexes are the temples, then the gods have deserted them and show no signs of returning until the keepers of the temples appease them.

Protests Erupt In India Over ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ Release

Jodhaa Akbar PosterFilmmaker Ashutosh Gowarikar just can’t seem to cut a break these days. The director’s latest film, ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ , was scheduled to be released in 26 countries on February 15th, however multiplexes in India refused to play the movie due to an ongoing dispute with the film’s distributor, United Motion Pictures (UMP). Turns out the distributor wanted 42.5% of the second week’s gross in most cities, but exhibitors only wanted to pay 41%. In the end, a deal was reached late Friday evening giving UMP terms of 50% for the first week and 41% for the second week, except in Bombay where the terms were 45% and 37.5% respectively.

With exhibitor’s Friday schedules thrown into chaos due to the delayed release of ‘Jodhaa Akbar‘, the film opened Saturday to poor reviews. However the controversy didn’t end there. Protesters showed up at several theaters, including a Velocity multiplex in Indore and a PVR cinema in Guragon, near New Dehli. They disrupted screenings of the film by ripping down posters, broke windows and caused a public disturbance. Police actions, and a few arrests, broke up the protests and in most cases the screenings continued after a short interruption.

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Indian Box Office Is Booming

Thanks to lurid exposes like the one which appeared in the December 22nd issue of The Economist most westerners probably think of India as a crowded and impoverished country filled with 1.1 billion people living in slums and working for miniscule wages. What they might find hard to believe, despite Bollywood’s international reputation as a bustling film industry, is that Indian’s spend Rs 8000 crore, or $2 billion, per year going to see movies. According to “Cinemagoing India“, a report published by Dodona Research, a UK-based industry analyst, this figure is not only accurate, but bound to grow over the next several years.

And if that doesn’t convince you, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to write a separate report which predicts that by 2011 the Indian film industry could be generating upwards of Rs 17,500 crore, or $4.4 billion. While this figure may not outpace yearly box office figures in the United States, the world’s highest grossing film industry, it still amounts to Rs 80, or $2, per capita in India. In a country where the average movie ticket price is under $1 and per capita income is $707, raking in that kind of dough is certainly an achievement. Read More »

Hollywood Rules India (For One Weekend)

Bollywood Hollywood

For one weekend out of 52, Indian cinemas look like those in almost every other non-US territory dominated by Hollywood films. There were no less than five studio titles opening this past Friday: I Am Legend, 30 Days of Nights, 1408, The Heartbreak Kid and Air Buddies, with just one Hindi film (Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train re-make Strangers), plus a last minute postponement of the release of Eastern Promises. While it shows a faltering grasp of the counter programming concept (vampire film, vampire/warewolf film, Stephen King adaptation and a narrowly avoided David Cronenberg film) it is the celluloid equivalent of saturation carpet bombing of Indian multiplexes with US films. The explanation is that no major ‘Bollywood’ releases are due for another week, when Aamir Khan’s much anticipated Taare Zameen Par (Every Child Is Special) opens, alongside mid-size title such as Welcome. So next week is back to normal.

But Hollywood films are slowly starting to grow in the Indian cinema market even though they are still to mainstream cinema, what non-English language films are in the US cinema market. An article in Time of India (Hollywood spins Rs 300 cr web in India – not web link) shows that films from the major US studios have crossed the 300 crore rupees threshold ($76m) compared to 241 crore last year, a significant leap, despite the number of titles released only going up from 74 to 76, i.e. three every two weeks. From the article:

The mood in Sony, Warner and UIP is therefore celebratory. According to trade guru Amod Mehra, Hollywood’s share in the cinema revenue pie in the country is still a nibble of barely 3 to 5%, but the fact that the Rs 300-crore mark has been crossed is reason enough to rejoice.

Proof of Hollywood’s growng appeal is reflected in the distribution pattern. Casino Royal was released with 427 prints in 2006, whil Spider-Man 3- the biggest ever hit in India so far – was released with 597 prints this year. In fact, big Hollywood films are now often released with 100-plus prints, a sign of growing demand.

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