Cable Sankar



Why Indian DVD market is shoddy?, Kaakka Kaakka, Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu


On an average, Hollywood grew 10% Y-O-Y in the last decade. In the last 8 years, the growth has been doubled. This growth is mainly attributed to DVD. But how is this possible? In a film’s total income, theaters generate a mere 25-28%. DVD brings home a relatively heftier 40%. Thus in Hollywood, DVD release equates another theatrical release, which has such a huge market. DVD market is divided into two, each of which has exclusive agreements.


Retail market is a large group comprising people who want to add the movie in their collection, who missed the film in theater and people who gift the DVD to loved ones who missed the movie in theater; it is indeed a long list. Agreement types of retail are,

a) Royalty deal: The distributor transfers an approximate of 12-20% of the total income to the producer as royalty.

b) Off-the-Top Deal: 25-30% is reduced for commission, 20 – 25% is further reduced for advertisement and overheads. Balance 50% of the DVD business income is handed over to the producer.


Apart from the above lot, there is a huge mass of public who rent out movie CDs from public libraries such as Netflix and Blockbuster. When public libraries lease movies, they pay a royalty for the film. 40% of the royalty goes to producer and the rest is the income for the distributor.

In rental too, off-the-top deal is followed. The distributor retains 25-35% of income and on the top of it, administration expenses are also deducted. Balance is the share of producer.

The DVDs too, apart from the USA, are sold across the world. The markets include regions like NTSC, PAL, Region 1, 2 and 3. Through this route, the movie is marketed even in countries where it was not released in theatrical route.

DVDs are released for sale after four months from the date of theatrical release of a film. Their sales life is an average 11-12 months. The sales of DVD are skyrocketing now since Blu-Ray format has brought in a revolution in picture clarity and sound quality. A digital copy of the same film accompanies all Blu-Ray discs, which is useful to convert the movie format and enjoy the movie in a PC or gaming consoles like PSP.

When a regular DVD costs $ 20, a Blu-ray is priced at $ 29. Is it worth buying them at this premium? Certainly! There are multiple reasons to justify this.

·         ‘Rated R’ movies are films for which kids below 18 years of age must watch only with parent’s company. When such movies are released, many parents who are with kids would not visit theaters, as they have to leave kids in home. They would rather buy the DVD.

·         Even if such parents choose to visit theaters without kids, they have to pay for babysitters to take care of them. As man-hour rates vary with region, a minimum $ 10 is chargeable for a babysitter. Thus, they end up paying more than movie tickets for babysitter. Not smart, is it?

·         The brilliant quality of DVDs! The DVDs in USA are provided with the movie viewing experience nothing less than that of in theater, if not better than that. To be honest, we Indians are hard on luck as we have access to only second rate DVDs like Aingaran, Pyramid, and Moserbaer. (Aingaran is relatively better, but not comparable to foreign DVDs, which are simply exceptional)

Indians are fond of audio than video. This may be attributed to the habit of watching films in pirated third rate CDs and poor quality theaters. Americans enjoy video more than audio. Perhaps that is why they do not want to upgrade more than Dolby in their theaters. They never care about advancements like DTS, whose bit rate is twice as high as Dolby. Despite this, every DVD is released with Dolby, DTS soundtracks and also with Spanish, French sub titles coupled with multi language sound track.

More than anything, the USP of the DVDs is the extras they come with. Every DVD comes with a treasure of information related with the movie. They include interview of the cast, commentary from the director, Actors’ commentary, Behind the scenes, Making of the movie, Multiple angle shooting of a pinnacle shot, BD-Live technology which is the latest in Blu-Ray – you name it! All these add-ons justify the extra asking price and make the buyer feel it’s worth spending the money.

Now Hindi DVDs follow this by releasing DVDs as two sets. The second DVD comprises most of the add-ons possible in Indian scenario. In Tamil however, only two DVDs came with add-ons so far - Kaakka Kaakka and Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu.

Problem is, all the interviews and add-ons are given to satellite TVs so the producers are left out with nothing to spare for DVD add-ons or worse than this, the add-ons are not produced at all. Behind-the-scenes for Sivaji was telecasted in Sun TV non-stop till the public was bored out of them. But in its DVD, which was released after a year, the extras are only the trailers of few movies. Can you believe? Yes, this is the only ‘extra’ we get in our Tamil DVDs. Dasavatharam was not different either. For these movie-only DVDs, the price is fixed at $14 - $16!

The problem does not stop here. The way our Tamil producers preserve the original prints is horrible to say the least. Tech-Savvy personas like Shankar and even Kamalhasan are no exception. Our cinema folks do not consider the future development in technology. With no precautionary actions in place, they simply ignore the proper preservation and protection of the original print of the movie. Result? Even the brand new movie, will have multiple grains and tatters in abundance in the starting of DVD itself. It is a crying shame on us.

On the other hand, Hollywood movies have crystal clear DVDs for a film of 1940 origin. They spend millions of dollars for the transformation, but every dollar is worth it. We can only pray our producers soon realize the importance of preservation, and the DVD medium.

[…to be continued

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