Tamil Nadu

Film industry hopes to end strike on April 17

Theatres rue missing out on Tamil New Year collections

The total shutdown of the Tamil film industry called for by the Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC) might have begun with good intentions, but many in the industry have started putting pressure on the TFPC and the theatre owners to end it.

The three sides — the theatre owners, the TFPC and the digital service providers — which are going to meet on April 17, are under increasing pressure to resolve issues such as computerised ticketing across the State and issues regarding the payment of the ‘Virtual Print Fee’.

This has become important as the theatre owners and producers had to survive a barren Tamil New Year’s weekend. Without any release, the theatre owners are now forced to bank completely on the Hollywood superhero film, Avengers: Infinity Wars, releasing on April 27, to salvage the month of April.

Tiruppur Subramaniam, a well-known exhibitor and distributor, says Avengers: Infinity Wars, which is a big-budget multi-superhero film, will have to release in close to 300 screens to get the audience back into the theatres. “Superhero films have always done well in the Tamil Nadu. Since Kaala is unlikely to release on April 27, both the English and Tamil versions of Avengers will get a major release in over 300 screens,” he said.

However, S.R. Prabhu, treasurer, TFPC, said that there was no change in their demands, including ‘no VPF’. “Our demand remains unchanged. If government can fix the ticket prices, they can resolve this issue as well. We hope that the tripartite talks will bear fruit,” he said.

A life without movies

The theatres are desperately banking on a big film after such a major break as they fear that the audience “might get used” to life without movies.

Stating that the industry needed a big Tamil movie to bring people back to the theatres, producer G. Dhananjayan said. “We need a big movie to bring back people to the theatres. We hope that the April 17 meeting will result in an end to the strike.”

A theatre owner in Madurai said the last 45 days had been challenging for business. “We had to manage with English films like The Hurricane Heist and Rampage. The occupancy level at my theatre was as low as 20% for some shows and only 80% during the weekends. For Avengers, we are being asked to pay a minimum guarantee of ₹4-5 lakh!” he said.

Udeep B, Managing Director, Mayajaal, a popular multiplex on East Coast Road, said that he has had to manage the situation with English, Hindi and Malayalam films as even Telugu films had been blocked from releasing this summer.

He added, “As Tamil and Telugu films typically constitute 65% of the content mix in multiplexes, the occupancy levels have fallen to levels never seen before during the summer season. It’s unfortunate that the best season of the year in film business is being forgone.”

“The strike will be resolved once our main contention about VPF is resolved. There are other companies which are ready to charge almost 50 percent less. We also hope to be granted flexibility in ticket pricing which doesn’t exist today,” said Vishal, president, TFPC and secretary, Nadigar Sangam.

Actor Arvind Swami tweeted that he was getting “tired of the strike” . He wrote: “Want to get back to work. Have no idea of the progress made in the terms put forward or the negotiations . I just hope everyone can get back to working soon and making movies. Thousands affected, need quick resolutions.”

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 12:16:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/film-industry-hopes-to-end-strike-on-april-17/article23543543.ece

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