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Cinema ticket rate revision reflects a balancing act

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The Mayajaal multiplex on East Coast Road. Photo: Special Arrangement
The Mayajaal multiplex on East Coast Road. Photo: Special Arrangement

S.R.Ashok Kumar

Consumers and cinema owners' interests are safeguarded

CHENNAI: The latest revision in the rates for admission tickets to cinema halls in the State, which took effect on Monday, reflects a balancing act by the Government in upholding consumer concerns as well as the interests of the film industry which turns in a whopping Rs. 100 crore till a year ago.

If the Government Order stipulating a cap on rates with Rs.10 as minimum and Rs.50 per ticket as the maximum for theatres was a windfall for film buffs, the subsequent revision allowing theatres to charge a maximum of Rs. 85 to Rs. 120 per ticket depending on their having a stipulated set of facilities has provided some relief to proprietors of multi-screen cinema halls and multiplexes.

Representations

The Government revision comes on the basis of the representations submitted by Sathyam Cinemas in the city and Mayajaal in on the East Coast road.

Abirami Ramanathan of Abirami mega Mall and president of the Chennai Theatre Owners Association welcomed the Government decision, which bode well for the handful of multiplexes scheduled to set up shop in the city this year. Inox, PVR and Reliance are among the major players coming to the city.

"We are quick to bring in world class projection technology to the city. The revised rates will encourage future development of technology,' said Mr. Ramanathan.

Moreover, under the set of 15 guidelines of Government, very few cinema houses can increase the rates of admission up to Rs.120 and most others will be able to keep the fee at Rs.85 or Rs.95 only, he said. (But this would be applicable to very few cinemas, and others have to peg the ticket rates at Rs.50).

According to the order, for a multiplex to charge Rs. 85 a ticket, it must have two or more A/C halls, a net capacity of over 800 seats with each seat not less than 20 inches and each row separated by 41.5 inches.

Stipulated facilities include xenon or digital projection, digital sound system, three-way speakers and surround speakers. Computer ticketing, web ticketing and home delivery of tickets are also in the list of guidelines. The generator back-up must for A/C too.

Only cinema houses, which have a food court with family entertainment arena (like children gaming area) and more than three cinema screens, can charge Rs.120 a ticket.

Theatre owners point out that of the 120 theatres in Greater Chennai, including 80 in the city proper, the majority would have to peg their ticket rates at the maximum of Rs. 50 a ticket.

B.Udeep, CEO of Mayajal, a multiplex on the East Coast Road, feels the Government is reasonable in their order. "I welcome the speedy action taken by the Government. For us the effect is almost the same as we charged Rs.100 for two of our cinema halls and Rs.150 for three other screens. But now, the rates have been standardised at Rs.120 for all the screens and we expect the occupancy rate to move up".

Sathyam cinemas vice-president Muni Kanniah too was happy with the rate revision.

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