Multiplexes' loss is home video market's gain

New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) The tussle between film producers and multiplexes over revenue sharing is a boon for the Indian home video business.

New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) The tussle between film producers and multiplexes over revenue sharing is a boon for the Indian home video business.

Pegged at Rs.8.63 billion (over $160 million), the industry has been looking up as the row has led to no big movies releasing for nearly one month.

Home video rental company BigFlix, a subsidiary of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), is among the firms that have seen substantial growth since the producers' strike began April 4.

'We have definitely seen a 15 percent growth over and above the usual growth so far with the multiplexes and distributors' war that has been going for nearly a month now,' Kamal Gyanchandani, COO of BigFlix, told IANS.

The home video wing of Shemaroo Entertainment, which claims to have a catalogue of over 1,000 titles to offer, has seen an upswing in profits, said Hiren Gada, director of the firm.

The video rental companies say these profits may be attributed to the fact that no new films are hitting cinema halls, leading people to watch more films at home.

And they predict a further boom in the business during the two-month-long summer holidays for school and college students.

'April onwards is holiday period, which is when the film business starts its upward momentum. It is indeed frustrating for film lovers to not have access to new content in cinemas, which in turn fuels their appetite for consuming films at home, which is where we are benefiting,' said Gyanchandani.

Agrees Subhankar Sarkar, COO, Seventymm, another DVD rental company that currently dominates the online space of India's home video rental market.

'The summer season and the vacation time for students is here. Considering the state of the economy, people have become price sensitive and enjoy watching movies at home rather than going to a theatre, which turns out to be an expensive deal. So we are growing at a pace as per our plan,' Sarkar told IANS.

Said Nirmit Aggarwal, a Class 12 student in Kolkata: 'Summers bring in the lazy effect and no one really likes to go out to watch movies in the scorching heat - even if you get to sit in an air-conditioned theatre. I'm planning to catch up on a lot of movies on DVD this summer.'

Added Divya Tiwari, who has just finished her Class 12 board exams: 'There is no better way to beat the heat and relax than watching a film of your choice, even if it's an old one, at home.'

The Indian Premier League (IPL) and ongoing elections have also resulted in increased sales for home video companies, said Shemaroo's Gada.

'Due to IPL, elections and the holiday season our sales have shot up. Even though no big films are releasing at the theatres and DVDs of those films won't be available for a while, we have just introduced titles like 'Slumdog Millionaire' and 'Slumdog Crorepati' that are doing well. And we are soon going to launch the DVD of 'Chandni Chowk To China'. So we're looking at good business.'

Besides, just like cinema halls are managing by playing re-runs of popular Hindi and English movies, home video companies too are happy selling and renting out DVDs and VCDs of older films as well.

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at [email protected])

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