The tussle between theatre owners and producers over pricing of the tickets and sharing of profits has triggered apprehensions in the film industry about the release of many films.

According to many producers, if the dispute prolongs it could rupture the producers-distributors-exhibitors ties and push many to the brink of bankruptcy. “There should be an immediate intervention from those concerned to ensure that the films are released without any hitch. Otherwise the loss would affect all those involved in the business of films,” according to G.Dhananjayan, a producer.

Exhibitors and theatre-owners maintained that they would release films only on a profit-sharing basis and not opt for ‘minimum guarantee' (MG). A string of much-hyped films slated for Pongal release have already been bought by exhibitors under MG. Under the MG, the exhibitors have to pay an advance amount to the distributors even before the release.

“With the current pricing of tickets, it is highly unfeasible for us to opt for MG or give our theatres on fixed hire. We are urging the producers and distributors to cancel the MG agreements that have been signed,” says ‘Tiruchi' Sridhar, an office bearer of Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Association. But the distributors say that the deal already signed would be valid.

Usually, many small films without much publicity backing are released on a profit-sharing basis, which would mean both the exhibitors and producers have to purely depend on the ticket sales for the success of films. “This way, we do not need to pay a huge amount in advance and take the burden on our shoulders. If a film bombs at the box-office, the loss is equally shared by producers and exhibitors,” Mr.Sridhar said.

According to Mr.Dhananjayan, a minimum guarantee is the only way through which small-time producers can survive as they get a good revenue even before the release of the film. If this arrangement faces a problem, then many small-time producers would vanish as they would not have enough money to release the films on their own or hire theatres on everyday basis. “It is imperative that the system continues as it is for the sake of film industry,” he adds. Mr.Sridhar said that the theatre owners were hopeful of receiving a positive response from producers or the government to intervene by Friday. He also added that the special shows for Pongal would be screened at the rates stipulated by the government.

“If the dispute prolongs it could rupture producers-distributors-exhibitors ties and push many to the brink of bankruptcy”