The Andhra Pradesh Government’s move to bring down the prices of cinema tickets has come as a rude shock to the Telugu film industry, particularly big filmmakers whose projects are due for release soon. The Government passed the AP Cinemas (Regulation) (Amendment) Bill 2021, regulating film ticket pricing, on Wednesday.
Under the revised system, the highest rate for theatres under corporations is `100 (plus 18% GST), down from the earlier `150, while theatres under municipalities now have a ceiling of `70 (plus 18% GST) (earlier `100), and those in panchayats can charge a maximum of `30 (plus 18% GST) as against `50 previously.
With this, the collections of big films like RRR, Radhe Shyam, Pushpa and Bheemla Nayak, could take a hit. A month ago, the producers of all these films had requested AP Cinematography Minister Perni Nani to hike existing ticket prices so that exhibitors and theatre owners would be able to survive, as the theatre business was badly hit by the pandemic.
The Minister had also announced on Wednesday that to bring in transparency, soon, all film tickets would be sold through the AP Film Development Corporation (APFDC).
Welcoming the government decision, Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce TFCC Vice-President Mutyala Ramadass said there would be accountability. “It was we (film fraternity) who have been asking for tickets to be sold online, so we are glad that the government made this decision,” he said, adding that the aim was to address the problems of irregular ticket pricing, number of screenings and unauthorized shows.
“This problem (large gaps between the taxes and film collections) has been plaguing the industry but with the latest initiative I guess things will improve,” Ramadass said, and hoped the move would also check tax evasions.
However, Chinni, an Uttarandhra exhibitor, said even with the earlier ticket rates, the exhibitors could not profit. “Whatever came in was shared between the distributor and the producer; we were always penniless,” he lamented.
“If the ticket prices for the balcony range are increased by 15%-20% it will help us survive, as we can defray maintenance costs,” he said, and pointed out that exhibitors have been bearing theatre maintenance costs during the 18 months of Covid-19.
Buyers (Distributors and exhibitors) in AP who have brought big ticket films like Radhe Shyam, RRR, Bheemla Nayak, etc., for high prices are now in a fix, and wonder when they will be able to break even at the new ticket rates.
“A couple of distributors who have bought big ticket films at a high price are asking producers to reduce the theatrical rights costs. While some producers are agreeable, others aren’t,” says a source, adding that a meeting would soon be called by all the three stakeholders – distributors, exhibitors and producers – to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Chiranjeevi appealed to AP Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy on Twitter to consider hiking cinema ticket prices....