TIRUNELVELI: Tamil Nadu Information and publicity minister Mr. Kadambur C. Raju’s statement that government is considering to sell movie tickets exclusively online has drawn flak from several theatre owners in the southern districts. They fear that the scheme, if implemented, would negatively impact the already dying theatre industry.
Briefing the media in Thoothukudi about government’s plan to check the over-pricing of cinema tickets, Mr Raju said that government is developing a mobile app to ensure that movie ticket sales are only through online portals; this will bring in transparency of revenue collection and prevent theatre owners from evading tax, apart from bringing down the ticket price by around Rs 30 to benefit theatre-goers.
This plan is not feasible in rural centres like Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari districts, feel theatre owners. They said, “the minister’s statement shows that he has no idea of the difference between theatres in posh malls in the A grade cities and the ones in rural centres, where hardly 50 per cent of the seats are booked online, even for box office hit movies starring Rajinikanth, Ajith or Vijay.”
Moreover, as normally, online booking closes 30 minutes before the screening of the film, even a movie buff desiring to watch a film on a particular day cannot get a ticket if he comes in the last minute, even though it is not houseful, said a theatre owner at Nagercoil, who added that in this case, it would be a loss to the owner.
Some theatre owners, responding to DC queries on the issue, said that it would be better if government takes positive measures to reduce the existing tax rate, which is around 20 per cent including the 8 per cent levied by local bodies. “It is nothing but double taxation,” said theatre owners, who suggested that if government really wished to keep the ticket prices under control, it could provide local bodies from its 50 per cent of share from GST and abolish the local body entertainment tax now being levied separately for theatres. That would lead to more footfalls in theatres.