Ronnie Screwvala files case against four major multiplex chains for charging 'discriminatory' Virtual Print Fee
Ronnie Screwvala says he could not afford to release Love Per Square Foot theatrically because of the exorbitant Virtual Print Fees charged by the cinema chains.
Ronnie Screwvala has filed a case against four major multiplex chains — PVR, Inox, Cinepolis and Carnival Cinemas — as well as FICCI - Multiplex Association of India for charging an exorbitant Virtual Print Fee (VPF).
In his petition addressed to the Competition Commission of India, Screwvala said that the multiplexes make Indian film producers or distributors pay an amount of Rs 20,000. According to a Mumbai Mirror report, described this as a "draconian discriminatory charge that the multiplex chains are forcibly imposing."
Mumbai Mirror writes that in 2010, in order to support the transformation from physical prints to digital, the producers, distributors and exhibitors had agreed on the sum for a period of five years. The petition states that this was extended twice, following a verbal agreement and would cease to have effect after 2017. However, the multiplexes still continued to charge Hindi language producers but Hollywood and even dubbed versions were exempt.
The complaint further adds that Aamir Khan's Dangal was not charged the fee due to an agreement with a foreign studio over the exhibition of their films in the country. Screwvala says that he was compelled to release Love Per Square Foot, starring Vicky Kaushal, via a streaming platform as the charges to the film screened nationally was not economically viable as the additional costs would have caused loss to the makers.
"All the Indian producers on an average have to pay Rs 2 to 3 crore to the multiplexes as Virtual Print Fee, if they want to release their films on 1,000 to 1,500 screens," explains the petition.
Responding to this development, Kamal Gianchandani, the CEO of PVR Cinemas, said that the matter is now sub-judice and hence, there is not anything to comment at this point, as per the same report.
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