Multiplexes react to Reliance Jio’s ‘first-day-first-show’ service plan

MUMBAI: Multiplex chain operators PVR, Inox Leisure, and Carnival Cinemas have voiced concerns regarding telecom operator Reliance Jio’s plan to showcase movies on the same as its theatrical release to premium Jio Fiber customers.

At Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) AGM on Monday, CMD Mukesh Ambani had announced plans for a premium movie service to watch new movies for Jio Fiber subscribers. The service ‘Jio First-Day-First-Show’ will launch in the middle of 2020.

“Also, for the first time in India, we are introducing a disruptive concept for watching NEW movies. Premium Jio Fiber customers will be able to watch movies in their living rooms the same day these movies are released in theatres! We call this Jio First-Day-First-Show. We plan to launch this service in the middle of 2020,” Ambani had announced.

The announcement has raised the hackles of multiplexes who are concerned about the move impacting their business models. The three multiplex chains have issued statements saying that the multiplex operators are key to the movie ecosystem as they help producers to recover a large chunk of their investment. They also stated that watching a movie in a multiplex is a family event rather than being just ma ovie exhibition.

In a statement, Carnival Cinemas MD PV Sunil said, “Carnival Cinemas believes that theaters have got more relevance as a family social meeting point than just being a movie exhibition centre and the relevance from that point of view will never diminish. Apart from the metro cities of the country, we do look forward seriously to the Tier 2,3 & 4 cities of India. We will be providing affordable movie experience to these cities without compromising either on the quality or luxury which the people of major cities enjoy today.

“We believe that the experience of watching a movie with a cross-section of the population in a theater along with their loud reactions takes it to a different tangent as compared to watching it in the solitude of your drawing room. Our purpose is to take the people outside of their homes and provide them a complete package of movies, good food, fun for children and ultimately a great time for family bonding. We believe that movie entertainment in India has become an article of necessity than of luxury. We are very positive about the opportunities opening up and eager to grab them.”

PVR, in a statement, said, “Cinema exhibition remains the largest revenue contributor for the Filmed Entertainment segment. As per FICCI report on India’s media and entertainment sector, March 2019, out of the total Filmed entertainment revenues of INR 174.5bn in 2018, theatrical box office (domestic & overseas) contribution was ~75%. Given India’ low screen density and the growth potential it offers, we expect Cinema exhibition to continue expanding its footprint in India for the next multiple years, which will continue growing it’s contribution to the overall revenue of the Filmed entertainment. It’s appropriate to point out that the year 2018 was a landmark year for global cinema industry with US / Canada box office and China box office at record highs of US$ 11.9bn and US$ 7.9bn, respectively.

“For decades, the theatrical release window has been a valuable model for exhibitors and producers alike. In India and globally, producers have respected the release windows and kept a sacrosanct gap between the theatrical release date & the date of release on all other platforms, i.e. DVD, DTH, TV, OTT etc. Cinemas continue bringing people together to share a communal experience, this unreplaceable element which is at the core of theatrical experience, continues to deliver a robust box office performance not just in growing market such as India but also in the more matured markets such as USA, China, Europe etc. where Cinemas have regularly competed with many similar initiatives, e.g. Netflix Original Movies etc.

“Theatrical and at-home are two completely different experiences and each has their own places. Both these experiences have co-existed and prospered for decades and will continue to so in the future. We are extremely buoyant about cinema exhibition’s growth prospects and remain committed to expand PVR’s reach in cities & towns across the country while delivering an unmatched movie-going experience to the Indian consumers.”

The Inox Leisure statement noted, “The theatrical exhibition industry, led primarily by the multiplex industry, has made significant investments in world-class cinema theatres, by bringing in state of the art technology, luxurious ambience, bespoke comfort, and unmatched service, ultimately curating an experience which can never be matched by watching movies on television screens at home. We strongly believe that Indian movie watchers’ love for cinema on giant screens is deep-rooted and unshakeable, and this has kept and will continue to keep, the industry alive and thriving for the past several decades, and for several decades to come.

“We would also like to point out that producers, distributors and multiplex owners in India have mutually agreed to an exclusive theatrical window of 8 weeks, between the theatrical release of a movie, and release on any other platform. This exclusive theatrical window is a model that is followed internationally, in order to ensure the robust financial viability of all the segments of the sector, and has been replicated in India.

“The producer of the film is the owner of the creative content and is therefore entitled to choose the platform for distribution and consumption of his content. However, in view of this mutually agreed exclusive theatrical window, he 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.”

You may be interested