Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh government’s move to introduce online booking for movie tickets on the lines of railway online ticketing system does not seem to have gone well with a section of film producers, distributors and exhibitors as they fear that money might be stuck up due to technical snags.
The state government issued GO RT No. 782 on August 31 for online booking of movie tickets in single theatres and multiplexes and entrusted the task to the Andhra Pradesh State Film, Television and Theatre Development Corporation (APFDC). It also appointed an eight-member committee with principal secretary (home) as its chairman and IT, special secretary as member secretary for implementation of the system.
A section of Telugu film industry says that it is at their request for online booking of cinema tickets, the state government has taken the decision to implement it to address any issues of financial irregularities, tax evasion and others. But it has expressed concern about the proposal to follow railway online ticketing system for online cinema tickets fearing that it may result in money getting stuck with APFDC.
They say that once a film has been produced and is ready for release after getting censor board clearance, distributors take money in advance from exhibitors to pay to the producers. As no film including big budget ones starring top heroes is being screened for more than a week, exhibitors take the collections at the box office and pay to the distributors who in turn pay to the producers. The entire financial transactions go with mutual understanding among all stakeholders in the highly unorganised film industry.
They caution that if the daily collections at the film theatres are deposited with APFDC, it takes time to remit such an amount back to stakeholders, distributors and exhibitors and it will have an impact on film production itself for want of money at hand.
Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce secretary K. L. Damodar Prasad said, “We welcome AP’s move to introduce online booking of cinema tickets to ensure transparency and avoid tax evasion but roping in APFDC for managing funds is unacceptable. Nowhere in the country such a practice is followed where the government wants to keep private funds with it.”
The film industry sources say that digital payment portals like BookMyShow and Paytm are also providing online ticketing service in film theatres but pay the collected amount to the concerned stakeholders the next day if the amount is more and in a week, if the amount is less.
Film distributor J.K. Ramakrishna said, “The film industry is already facing the crisis following curbs imposed on screening of films due to Covid-19 and the government’s plan to take up online booking of tickets will be a death blow with no cash in hands of stakeholders. The GO may not withstand legal scrutiny.”
Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce vice president M. Rama Dasu said, “We are happy that the state government intends to introduce online sale of cinema tickets at our request for transparency but roping in APFDC for managing funds will cause huge amounts of daily collections at theatres to get locked with APFDC. This may cause huge losses to all stakeholders in the film industry.”
Moreover, they say that APFDC is not fully equipped in terms of manpower and infrastructure to handle such a gigantic task of managing funds....