As many as 350 theatres in Kerala will down shutters indefinitely from Thursday following an ongoing tiff between the Kerala Film Exhibitors' Federation and the distributors and producers over sharing of collections.
The Federation announced the development on Tuesday.
As the first step of protest, the theatres under the Federation have for the past almost one month not released any new Malayalam films. Instead, films in other languages were being released. From Thursday, that will also not happen.
"The decision to shut down has been a unanimous one, but we are certainly open to any discussions to settle the issue if the state government calls for it," said Liberty Basheer, president of the Federation, speaking to reporters in Kochi.
The dispute happened after the Federation wanted a change in the revenue sharing ratio between them and the distributors. The ratio currently stands at 60:40 of the collections and the exhibitors want it to be 50:50, which has been opposed by the producers.
This has been the model since 2003.
The producers and the distributors are now up in arms, and have said that they will not succumb to the arm-twisting tactics of the Federation. They would now start releasing new Malayalam films that have been held up since last month at other theatres.
"Let them go ahead by releasing new films in such centres. We will wait and see how long they will keep us out," said Basheer.
One reason why the Federation decided to seek a change in the revenue sharing pattern is with the entry of multiplexes, who are being given a 50:50 pattern. So, they are demanding that they too should get it.
Since the impasse began, a few rounds of conciliation talks between the representatives of the producers, Federation and distributors failed to break the deadlock. Now they are watching how the state government will intervene as precious revenue by way of taxes, which the state government receives, is taking a hit.
Ace film director Priyadarshan said they expect Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will be able to resolve the issue.