It all began with Sai Kishore theatre way back in the 1990s. Then Sudershan 70 mm theatre followed suit in 2010. Odeon 70 mm, 35 mm, Mini-Odeon, Srinivasa and Venkatesa theatres too later headed the same way.

All these theatres, which were once popular for screening hit movies, are now making way for commercial and residential complexes. RTC Crossroads, which was once considered to be mecca of cinema in twin cities, seems to be losing its sheen.

Already the managements of Srinivasa and Venkatesa have commenced works to construct a commercial and residential complex in the erstwhile theatres premises. Sudershan 70 mm management, which shut its operations since May 23 in 2010 is planning to replace the theatre with a five-floor commercial complex. It is reported that a multiplex would come up at the existing Odeon theatre complex. All the buzz and activity of fans when a big star’s movie is released is missing these days at the theatres. Even people, particularly middle income groups find it tough to manage their budgets.

Earlier, watching movie was the only entertainment but now there are other means, particularly multiplexes. But given the ticket prices not everyone can afford going to multiplexes regularly. With single screen theatres going into oblivion, RTC Crossroads is losing its character, says Kamesh Babu, a resident of Chikkadpally. Right from rising property values, escalating maintenance costs, losses to changing lifestyles, there are many reasons for single-screen theatres in this area to be replaced with malls, commercial complex and residential apartments. More than anything, it is the rising property value that is forcing the theatre managements to sell the lands or replace them with commercial or residential complexes. Then there are disputes among partners or legal heirs that make managements to shut their operations, says Natti Kumar, chairman A.P. Film Chamber of Commerce Producers Distributors’ Sectors. Amidst this trend, it is the movie lovers and small movie makers, who are at the receiving end. While visitors have to bear exorbitant ticket prices in malls to watch a movie, small movie makers will not find theatres to screen their films, he adds. “In another couple of years, most of the theatres in RTC Crossroads will be either replaced with commercial complexes or multiplexes.”

S. Sandeep Kumar

Theatres once popular for screening hit movies are now making way for commercial and residential complexes