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`Digital screens have helped small theatres, regional films'

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`Digital screens have helped small theatres, regional films
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Mumbai: Digitalisation has revived the single screen theatres in the country and widened the reach of regional cinema, says Kapil Agarwal, Joint MD, UFO Movies.

Nearly eighty per cent of the film industry now uses digital prints. In the next two years, the entire industry would switch to digital prints, he said.

According to Agarwal, those who have not gone digital are finding it difficult to survive, as analogue print is costly. Regional cinema has benefited by the advent of digital screens, he said.

"Earlier, Marathi films would be released with 20 prints. But, now because of digital screens, Marathi movies are getting space in big theatres." Because of digitalisation, the small-town theatres, which did not get films in the first week of release, now get prints sooner.

"Out of UFO's 3,000 digital screens, around 350 are in multiplexes, rest in single screens theatres," he said.

Single screens are now offering advantages of multiplexes and `a near multiplex environment' at fraction of the cost. "Official figures put the film industry at Rs 10,000 crore, I feel it should between Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 crore. In 2005, the revenues were around Rs 5,000 crore. The growth in revenue is substantial," he noted.

Agarwal also said conversion of 2D films to 3D had not caught viewers' fancy. "A complete experience can be had only when the movie is shot in 3D. But shooting in 3D raises production cost by over Rs 4 to 7 crores."

Speaking of challenges of digitalisation, Agarwal said biggest ones were delivery and maintenance of infrastructure. Till 2003, the industry was still working with analogue. "Reels had to be made and sent to theatres which was killing the industry. Distributors had to invest more heavily in making of the reel and its physical transportation."

Transportation also facilitated piracy. Films went to fewer theatres. So limited number of exhibitors got first- day-first-show, and others lost out on the first week audience. "Digital content can be replicated as many times as you want," he said.

UFO movies, which has two-third share of the digital screening market, hopes to convert the entire market to digital in the next two years and expand the reach of 3D network, he said.

"We are also expanding globally," he said.

The company does not plan to venture into production, exhibition or distribution. "Our core expertise is infrastructure building," Agarwal stated.

PTI

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