Tollywood producers challenge struggles of theatres

While exhibitors and lessees in Telangana state claim that they are unable to run the show due to lack of audience in theatres, a few producers beg to differ. They say that most of the exhibitors are cash-rich and making profits, barring a few.

“There are more lessees than owners in Telangana region and all of them are minting money over the years with their tight grip over theatres and producers were at their mercy,” says producer Nayeem Ahmad who rues that there is no level-playing field in Telugu cinema.
“Out of the 100-odd Telugu films, 80 films are small and medium movies. But these exhibitors just focus on 20-odd movies with big stars and killing the remaining films with high ticket rates and also by allocating theaters in city outskirts, thereby dampening the spirits of young filmmakers who want make a mark with novel content. Whereas, they allot main theatres of routine commercial films and killing cinema,” he adds. He also goes on to add that small filmmakers' demand for five shows in main theatres with one morning show for a small film has been put in abeyance. “They are against content-driven movies and killing Telugu cinema which is known for great movies from ‘Sankarabharanam’, ‘Siri Siri Moova’ and ‘Balagam’ without big stars,” he points out.
He says that leading lessees are Suresh Babu, Dil Raju and Allu Arvind and few others, who have control over 300-odd theatres out of 400-odd theatres in Telangana. “One top lessee is planning to sell a 50% share of his business for Rs 300 crores out of his Rs 600 crore business. So who is losing and which business is running under losses? This is nothing but misleading and false propaganda by few rich exhibitors,” adds producer Madhu, who also says that single-screens are going out of reach for small and medium range producers.
“With these exhibitors joining hands with distributors seeking government permission for ticket hike from Rs 100 to 450 per head, audiences are shying away from theatres,” he says.
He also goes on to add that theatre owners' properties has gone up 100 times over a period of time. “Theater owners have made unprecedented profit gains. For instance, they would have constructed a theatre for Rs 20 lakhs a few decades ago and now the same property is worth Rs 30 crores since movies enhanced its brand value and made it a landmark in that locality. Similarly, four or five lessees also made huge money over the years by paying lesser amounts to theatre owners and letting out the same for 2 to 3 times more to producers. Invariably, amassing massive wealth by fixing high rentals and also by not giving details of full collections to producer and distributor, lessees are siphoning off major amounts,” laments producer Madhu.
Elaborating further, Nayeem says, “Superstars like Mahesh Babu, Allu Arjun and Venkatesh are joining hands to build swanky theatres in Hyderabad, so the exhibition sector is truly flourishing and rumours of theatres shutting down is merely a myth."
( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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