The big bucks for a blockbuster

The practice of selling tickets for film shows at prices over the government-fixed norm has become common, with theatre owners feeling the pinch of regulations

Updated - December 05, 2021 09:08 am IST

Published - February 05, 2015 08:02 am IST - CHENNAI:

As another big-budget Tamil film, actor Ajith Kumar’s Yennai Arindhaal , gets set for its release on Thursday, the single screen theatres in the city are exploiting the demand and charging exorbitant ticket rates.

The prices are higher than the limit set by the State government. Further, special shows that have been scheduled go beyond the government-fixed norm of four shows per weekday.

This has become a tradition of sorts in an industry that is reeling under the government's regulation of admission prices. Producers, exhibitors and other stakeholders argue that with the increasing costs of running cinema theatres and that of film production, the maintaining of the premium ticket fare for multiplexes at Rs. 120 and for single screens at Rs. 95, for the past eight years, has hurt the industry.

In his analysis on the cinema hall ticket fares, published in The Hindu (Tamil), G. Dhananjayan, film historian and head of Disney-UTV Motion Pictures (south), noted that the neighbouring states of Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala allowed weekend admission fares of up to Rs. 350.

A popular single screen theatre in K.K. Nagar, where this reporter enquired and purchased tickets on Wednesday morning, has sold tickets for the early morning show of Yennai Arindhaal at Rs. 500 per ticket, and for the 7.45 a.m. show at Rs. 400. Interestingly, the printed ticket issued in the manager’s room does not indicate the price and simply states that it is a special show for fans.

The case seems to be similar at other popular non-multiplex screens around Chennai. Many of the theatres have also increased the number of shows. Abirami Ramanathan, managing director of Abirami Multiplex, says, “There is a law that you cannot run more than four shows per weekday, and not more than five on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. It is very clear.”

Recently, when Rajinikanth’s Lingaa released on December 12, at least seven shows were screened in a day, which included a midnight show, the tickets for which were priced as high as Rs. 1000.

When asked about the overpricing of tickets, distributors and theatre owners say the nature of the business has changed and the idea is to milk the demand in the first week of a big release.

“It is simple economics. The distributor takes 70 per cent of what we collect and the theatres get the rest. Since we have to pay a significant advance, we are to forced to overprice the tickets as we will not even be cover our basic maintenance costs (providing amenities like air conditioning) with the current limits set by the government,” says a theatre owner.

‘Early morning shows need regulation’ The city police has termed the scheduling of film shows beyond the stipulated number as ‘strictly illegal’.

According to a senior police officer, representatives of cinema halls are required to obtain prior police permission in order to screen extra shows, often permitted on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. “Early morning screenings of films, mainly in the first week of their release, are becoming common in and around the city. This is done mainly with the connivance of the local police, and needs to be regulated,” the officer added.

Sale of tickets at inflated prices remains punishable, and is common in the case of tickets sold on the black market, often outside the movie hall.

There has been no specific complaint of representatives of cinema halls selling tickets at higher prices through their counters, the officer said. Any such incidents should be brought to the notice of the police and appropriate action would be initiated through the concerned authorities; in this case, the Commercial Taxes department, he added.

StateMultiplexSingle Screen
KarnatakaRs. 250-300Rs. 150-200Rs. 80-200
KeralaRs. 100-230Rs. 100-180Rs. 80-100
Andhra and TelanganaRs. 150-250Rs. 125-200Rs. 60-75
Tamil NaduRs. 120Rs. 120Rs. 40-95

(With additional reporting by Petlee Peter)

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