Cinema exhibition industry has put up a brave face in front of Reliance Jio's announcement that the company will launch a service next year, where its premium Jio Fibre subscribers will be able to watch a new release the same day on their television sets as its theatre audience.
The exhibitors-PVR Cinemas and INOX Leisure-have said that theatrical and at-home are two completely different experiences and it is the call of the producers to choose on which platform their content would be distributed for consumption.
Mukesh Ambani, chairman, RIL, on Monday said at the company's 42nd AGM that Jio Fibre's premium customers will be able to watch new movies in their living rooms the same day these movies are released in theatres. Called the 'Jio-First-Day-First-Show' service is planned to be launched in the middle of 2020.
While a media statement from PVR said, both these experiences have co-existed and prospered for decades and will continue to do so in future, INOX Leisure said that the producer of the film is the owner of the creative content and he/she is therefore entitled to choose the platform for distribution.
However, some sense of caution is palpable from the statements made. Inox said, "In view of this mutually-agreed exclusive theatrical window, he (producer) would have to choose between theatrical exhibition or release on any other platform, since release on both simultaneously would breach the mutually-agreed exclusive theatrical window". According to Inox, producers, distributors and multiplex owners in India had mutually agreed to an exclusive theatrical window of eight weeks, between the theatrical release of a movie, and its release on any other platform. This exclusive theatrical window is a model that is followed internationally, in order to ensure robust financial viability of all the segments of the sector, and has been replicated in India.
Out of the total film entertainment revenues of Rs 17,450 crore in 2018, theatrical box office (domestic & overseas) contribution was 75%, according to a March 2019 report on India's media and entertainment sector of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
According to PVR, given India's low screen density and the growth potential it offers, one can expect cinema exhibition to continue expanding its foot print in India for the coming years, which will continue growing it's contribution to the overall revenue of the filmed entertainment.