Exhibs embrace digital as a way to cut costs

Around 90 theaters have been converted recently

KOLKATA — Digital cinemas, especially in distribution territories spread across smaller towns, seem to be the latest trend with India’s movie circuit.

Mukta Adlabs Digital Exhibition, a joint venture between Mumbai’s Adlabs Films and Mukta Arts, has converted around 90 theaters nationwide into digital facilities over the last few months.

Trial runs of the satellite-transmitted direct-to-theater delivery method have been completed at Wave Multimedia in Uttar Pradesh state.

As many as 32 Bollywood films have already been released in digital theaters as well as in traditional cinemas and modern multiplexes. Titles include “Khakee,” “LOC,” “Koi mil gaya,” “Kal ho naa ho,” “Gangajal” and “Qayamat.”

“We are also in talks with the U.S. studios based here to release Hollywood movies,” says Sunil Patil, CEO of Mukta Adlabs Digital Exhibition.

“The main advantage in the digital system is that prints of a film (stored on hard disks) can be reeled out at a cost of $60, whereas a conventional celluloid print entails between $1,400-$1,800. One can carve out as many digital prints as may be necessary from the master copy.”

“At such a paltry print cost, distributors can circulate prints during a release in (small towns) simultaneously with the movie’s opening in the major metros and cities.”

Digital halls dot states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal as well as the capital, Delhi.

“We are now installing digital infrastructure in another 15 theaters in Gujarat and 25 in Uttar Pradesh. The target is to convert 200-250 cinemas, mainly in India’s western and northern regions,” Patil says.

“This number could even touch 400 if we decide to enter areas in south India.”

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