Movies on big screen costlier come Mon­day

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - NAAGARAJAN SUBRA­MA­NIAN @ Chen­nai

FOL­LOW­ING the re­cent im­ple­men­ta­tion of the lo­cal en­ter­tain­ment tax of 10% on Tamil films and 20% on non-Tamil films, the gov­ern­ment has now in­creased the base price of tickets from `120. This move comes af­ter sev­eral re­quests from the in­dus­try, urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to re­vise ticket prices. “Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Tamil cinema have ex­pressed that the in­dus­try is fac­ing dif­fi­cul­ties due to piracy, a gen­eral in­crease in ex­penses and the re­cently im­ple­mented tax. The as­so­ci­a­tions fur­ther stated that in view of the in­tro­duc­tion and en­force­ment of the Goods and Ser­vices Tax, they are not in a po­si­tion to make films and op­er­ate the­atres at the ex­ist­ing rates of ad­mis­sion. They have re­quested that the gov­ern­ment re­vise the rates of ad­mis­sion to the­atres,” a gov­ern­ment press re­lease stated. It will ap­ply from Oc­to­ber 9. A ticket will now cost `192 (150+28%GST) in Chen­nai.

Com­ment­ing on this re­vi­sion, Sasi Ra­man, Direc­tor of Tick­etNew, said, “This will likely af­fect every­one in­volved in­clud­ing our ad­ver­tise­ment and brand­ing part­ners. The ef­fec­tive hike, when you take into ac­count all the re­cent taxes, is a mere `4. There might be a gen­eral per­cep­tion that the the­atres stand to gain from this move, but I’m not so sure. As it is, the turnout at the the­atres has taken a hit. Do you know that the­atres re­duced base fare to less than 100 to en­sure they fall un­der the 18%GST?” He also pointed out that this could af­fect nonTamil films in a big way. “Why will any­one screen a film which will have a lesser turnout?”

Top dis­trib­u­tor Tirupur Subra­ma­niam is un­happy too. “It looks like the gov­ern­ment is not aware of the con­se­quences this will have on the small play­ers. This is not what we wanted,” he said. “We are not go­ing to ac­cept this. I’m not say­ing that a price ceil­ing is wrong, but let there be only four clas­si­fi­ca­tions: Greater Chen­nai sub-clas­si­fied into AC and Non-AC the­atres and a sim­i­lar clas­si­fi­ca­tion for the non-Chen­nai the­atres. Also, I still don’t un­der­stand how dou­ble tax­a­tion is right.”

MANI Verma who runs the Madu­rai Im­pala The­atre and is also the Sec­re­tary of the Madu­rai The­atre As­so­ci­a­tion painted a gloomy pic­ture too. “Why is there a dif­fer­ence in the base price for var­i­ous re­gions when we all end up pay­ing the same to the gov­ern­ment? Is the price we pay for elec­tric­ity and other taxes any dif­fer­ent from other the­atres? How can I run an AC the­atre for 3 hours by charg­ing just `19? We might as well sell off the the­atres,” Verma said.

Nik­lesh Surya, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Ro­hini The­atres, said that the­atres like his which have spent a lot on in­cor­po­rat­ing the lat­est tech­nol­ogy stand to lose a lot. “Give us an op­tion to price the tickets. Don’t fix a stan­dard price for all films,” he re­marked.

While the gov­ern­ment has an­nounced that the base prices have been in­creased, ne­go­ti­a­tions are still on. “We are hav­ing a meet­ing with rep­re­senta- tives from the gov­ern­ment on Tues­day. We need clar­ity about what seem like am­bi­gu­i­ties,”

Vishal, the President of the Tamil Nadu Film Pro­duc­ers’ Coun­cil, said. But he is clear on the so­lu­tion he seeks. “I think all these prob­lems would be solved if this new en­ter­tain­ment tax gets abol­ished.”

I don’t un­der­stand why there’s a big deal about the price rise be­cause, for the past 10 years, it has been the same. Com­pared to other cities, we are nom­i­nal. I think it’s not go­ing to af­fect the movie-go­ers, said Subbu, Kasi The­atre. Speak­ing along the same lines, Ruban, of GK Cin­e­mas, added, “Only in mul­ti­plexes, peo­ple have to spend around Rs 240-260. In sin­gle screens, it’s not so. In­clud­ing the re­vi­sion of GST, it’s go­ing to be around Rs 160, which is af­ford­able. This will ac­tu­ally help more peo­ple com­ing into sin­gle screens, who don’t want to pay three times this amount. But this dou­ble tax­a­tion can be avoided.”

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