Vijayawada: Despite the government allowing screening of movies with a 50 per cent occupancy in theatres, film exhibitors are wary of reopening theatres in semi-urban and rural areas in the state in view of a lower slab fixed by the government for ticket prices.
“We appeal to the government to consider our plea to revise rates of admission (ticket prices) in theatres located in semi-urban and rural areas, where films are the only source of entertainment for people. A revision in ticket prices would the screening of films financially viable,” said M. Rama Dasu, vice-president of the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce.
The issue relates to GO MS No. 35 dated 08-04-2021 which fixed ticket prices in film theatres based on location and amenities offered.
In an area that comes under a municipal corporation, the ticket price in multiplex was fixed at 250 for premium, Rs 150 for deluxe and Rs 75 for economy class. For Nagar Panchayat, the ticket price was fixed for a theatre with AC at Rs 15 for economy, Rs 25 for deluxe and Rs 35 for premium, and for a non-AC theatre, it was Rs 10, Rs 15 and Rs 25 for respectively. For gram panchayat, the ticket price was for an AC theatre at Rs 10 for economy, Rs 15 for deluxe and Rs 20 for premium and for non-AC, it was Rs 5, Rs 10 and Rs 15 for respective classes.
Through this GO, the state government had fixed maximum ceiling rates, which cannot be violated by theatre management.
The state government issued GO MS No. 69 dated 06-07-2021 amending an existing rule to allow the licensing authority to grant or renew a licence in Form B to fix ticket prices to different classes in theatres as per orders issued by the government from time to time.
There are nearly 1,250 theatres in the state. Of which, around 60 per cent are located in semi-urban and rural areas, where internet access is relatively less. This makes watching films in theatres their only source of entertainment.
The film exhibitors, however, claim that they are finding it tough to reopen theatres and as their operations have become unremunerative because of low ticket prices.
They also claim that they are charged the same GST as those in bigger cities on power and other inputs. So they claim ticket prices should be fixed based on amenities and not the area of operations.
Film chamber secretary K.L. Damodar Prasad, “We are going to hold a meeting soon to discuss on how to go about reopening of film theatres to screen films as we have some issues to be taken to the notice of the state government to resolve them.”
Film exhibitors in cities like Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam are planning to reopen theatres and resume the screening of films. However, they are still hesitant about the patronage from moviegoers for the fear of Covid-19.
If there was no threat of the third wave of Covid-19, they said theatres will be run at full capacity during October for the Dasara festival....