Cap on ticket fare takes a toll on theatres in Tamil Nadu

Recovering the costs of a film has become more difficult in the last three years, with the Rs. 120-cap on ticket prices, say theatre owners —File Photo  

In 2015, theatre owners and film distributors are hoping the AIADMK government would re-evaluate its policy of regulating cinema ticket prices in the State.

The policy has made it one of the cheapest places to watch movies in India now.

Recovering the costs of a film has become more difficult in the last three years, with the Rs. 120-cap on ticket prices in Tamil Nadu that covers multiplexes, too. A tenth of the seats in theatres and multiplexes in Tamil Nadu are sold at Rs. 10.  On the other hand, theatres in adjoining states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka charge anywhere between Rs. 150-Rs. 500 per ticket, with the lowest fare estimated at Rs. 50.

With rising maintenance and power costs, the reluctance of the government to re-look the fares could result in the closure of many cinema halls, the industry fears.

“We have been expecting a decision from the government for the last six years. Meanwhile, the electricity bills, wages and the general maintenance costs have all gone up. Yet, most theatres have been selling tickets for Rs. 50-Rs. 60,” says R. Panneerselvam, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors’ Association.

At the very least, theatre owners say, they expect a hike in the ticket prices as it has been eight years since it was last effected, or be given a free hand to fix the price for a period of time following the release of a film.

“For every Rs. 50 ticket we sell, theatre owners get Rs. 15, with the majority of it (about 60-70 per cent of the price) going to the distributors in the first week,” says R. Panneerselvam, adding, “The regulation was brought in because it was one of the major sources of entertainment for poor people. Today, it is not so and there is no need to regulate them.”

“Today, the shelf-life of a movie is one week. The number of seats that I have is fixed, so there has to be some flexibility when it comes to pricing. Though some single screens located on the outskirts charge high rates, you can’t do it in the city. The number of shows is also restricted. It’s a dicey business,” says the owner of a popular multiplex in the city.

The move by the State government to persist with regulation of the prices is seen as a ploy to keep the fans happy.

“If you really look at the economics of running a cinema theatre, tickets contribute the lion’s share. When you don't allow ticket prices to inch up every year, you squeeze theatre owners out of the business. Today, in Tamil Nadu, theatre owners are really banking on their real-estate property values to monetise their efforts,” says Harish Bijoor, a marketing expert.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 6:48:16 PM |

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