After revolutionising the way films are distributed and exhibited in India through our pioneering technology, infrastructure and unique pay-per-show business model, UFO Digital Cinema has launched the IMPACT Ticketing Platform. The new platform provides state-of-the-art, online satellite-based ticketing systems that interface with a central NOC to provide online minute-to-minute box office information to stakeholders in the movie business chain.
The IMPACT Ticketing Platform can be installed at a minimal cost. While other service providers simply sell tickets, with IMPACT, selling tickets is just a by-product. The USP is not selling tickets but giving the producers and distributors total connectivity. This is a huge leap forward as producers and distributors are very keen to know how their movies have performed. Since vast sums of money are involved, recovery is of utmost importance.
With IMPACT connected to the producers’ desktop, he gets a perspective of all the cinemas where his film is screening. Similarly, distributors get an idea, circuit-wise, about specific regions. IMPACT also compiles Government-related requirements such as taxation and accounting work, box-office collections data and historical data. One can also do an analysis of what genre movie performed well, which movie didn’t do well, how it fared on the first day first show and so on.
The salient features of the new platform are that it supports multi-terminal, multi-user transactions with a user-friendly interface. It has a faster printing facility for tickets to reduce transaction time and customised screen configuration of ticket sales for operational ease.
The system has also a Payment Reconciliation and Tele Booking facility. There are other benefits to film exhibitors including a digital signage system for show schedule, trailers and advertisements. Besides, exhibitors have online visibility of ticket sales data and consolidate ticket sales data of all properties in one place along with inventory management.
Compliance of cinemas with the IMPACT Ticketing Platform
Unfortunately, this is the reason we have been able to cover only 200 screens in this aspect despite having 3,000 UFO installations. We want to have more than 3,000 screens and this is possible because IMPACT is not restricted to UFO screens but is open to everyone.
The number of users of IMPACT technology is limited because of transparency issues. Cinema hall owners and distributor chains are not comfortable with transparency with regard to sale figures as there is a huge difference between actual ticket sales and what is reported to producers. There are various vested interests, which is a hindrance to the growth of the IMPACT Ticketing Platform.
How UFO tackled this situation
Earlier producers/distributors would ask cinema chains to reveal their revenue-generating capacity. So if it was Rs 4 lakh, the distributor/producer would ask for Rs 3.5 lakh upfront. However, cinema chains would hesitate to pay up as they were not sure how the film in question would perform at the ticket counter. Thus, cinemas started deceiving distributors/producers by concealing their sales figures and under-declaring figures. They would skim off the rest.
So we have to educate both parties to build trust. They must be convinced that transparency will benefit both. We had to convince cinema hall owners that they would not be overcharged and ask them not to misguide with regard to revenue.We are already generating box-office reports but there are only 200 cinemas which are IMPACT-compliant. There was mistrust on both sides. When both parties start trusting each other, business practices in the trade will be fair.
Meanwhile, UFO Moviez still needs to grow. From 3,000, we want to expand to 4,000-5,000 screens. Thanks to technology, it is a business that’s constantly evolving.Through our company, Valuable, we keep commercialising the technology in different ways. We use a satellite base to conduct interactive classes across Maharashtra, where we use teachers in the studio who teach from an online manual.
There’s always R&D taking place at the back end. In the digital satellite space, it takes three to four hours to download a movie and there are multiple cycles. We will be increasing this speed. Today, at any given time, we are doing 40-50 movies a week, and at any given time, there are around 1,000 movies running across India on UFO. So we are trying to increase the speed of downloads so that more and more people can get through it. That is our focus now.
Pankaj Jaysinh is the COO of UFO Moviez