There was a time when
newly released movies took a few months to reach the B and C class towns in the country. But in the last decade, there has been a change in the trend, and films are being launched simultaneously in many cities through multiple prints. However, this has meant incurring huge costs in both production and distribution. Traditionally, films are distributed in theatres in the celluloid format, and multiple locations means carrying the celluloid prints physically to each location.
Hughes Network Systems, which provides broadband satellite network solutions to businesses and consumers, has come up with a solution to the problem. The company has digitised around 400 movie halls in B and C class towns across the country and it plans to convert another 600 theatres into the digitised format by the end of the year.
The new technology is expected to bring down the cost of distributing movies in India by 50 per cent. Pranav Roach, president, Hughes Network Systems, India, says, "The digitised format also enhances the quality of the pictures."
Some recently launched movies such as 'Chocolate' and 'Aashique Banaya Aapne' have already been screened in the digital format.
But does this mean that the films need to be produced as well in the digital format? Roach explains, "Movies are still produced in the celluloid format and later converted into the digital format. This digital format is then transmitted to theatres via satellite from the company's hub in Gurgaon, near Delhi. All the theatre needs to have to project these movies is a digital projection system, a digital distribution server and a VSAT."
Roach adds that the cost of the digital conversion isn't impossibly high - Rs 8-10 crore per theatre. He says this cost is shared by the theatre owners and the film producers in some cases, while in others, the theatre owners are ready to bear the entire cost of the remodelling.
There are digital cinema service providers who help the theatre set up the infrastructure. The bandwidth for beaming the movies to the theatres is provided by satellite service providers such as Hughes.
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