TN theatre owners’ indefinite strike from March 16: What will producers do now?

While multiplexes and Chennai theatres have not decided on the strike yet, the announcement is likely to pressure producers in their current standoff with DSPs.
TN theatre owners’ indefinite strike from March 16: What will producers do now?
TN theatre owners’ indefinite strike from March 16: What will producers do now?
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The Tamil film industry is currently engaged in a standoff with Digital Service Providers (DSPs) in the state. But this has left theatre owners in the lurch. They are upset with the film industry’s stance, which they say is unreasonable.

No new Tamil film has released since March 1, and business had been hit badly.

Now, the Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors Association (TNFEA) has passed a decision to go on an indefinite strike, starting from March 16.

According to a press release, the TNFEA held a meeting on Thursday and put forward a 4-point resolution urging the Tamil Nadu government to do the following:

1. Completely remove the 8% local body tax

2. Allow flexibility in reducing the number of seats in the auditorium

3. Licence renewal period to be made from 3 years to 1 year

4. Theatre maintenance charges to be revised to Rs 5 per ticket from the current Rs 1 per ticket

Multiplexes and theatres in Chennai, however, are yet to decide on whether they will be part of the strike. In October last year, the film industry had strongly objected to the Tamil Nadu government's order levying entertainment tax on the exhibition of movies in theatres.

Under the order, 10% tax was levied on Tamil language movies and 20% tax on movies in other languages, over and above the GST.

In July, following protests and a refusal from the Producers' Council to screen any films over the 'exorbitant tax', ticket prices had been revised across Tamil Nadu.

"We have no plans to reduce or rollback the entertainment tax as of now," the Information Minister told the media in October. "Since ticket prices have been revised, the film industry won't be affected by this move," he added.

As per the orders issued by Home (Cinema) Department, the ticket prices in multiplexes which have more than three screens and other facilities like airconditioning, family entertainment and restaurant facilities, were increased to Rs 150. The minimum fare of Rs 10 was hiked to Rs 15. Other multiplexes with two theatres and lesser facilities in various zones were allowed to charge a base rate between Rs 106.30 and Rs 118.80, according to their grades. A GST of 28% was then added to this base rate.

But the Nadigar Sangam was still unhappy with the government's orders and had called it unfair.

The film exhibitors have now raked up the local body tax issue once again. Some feel the move is a way to pressure the Tamil film industry to back off from their stance in the strike that's to do with DSPs.

Speaking to TNM regarding the ongoing battle between Tamil film producers and DSPs, Woodlands Theatre owner Venkatesh had said that there are 60 films waiting to be released in Tamil. With theatre owners striking back, ahead of the summer season, producers will start feeling the heat.

The Kannada and Malayalam industries observed a one day token strike to show their solidarity with the south Indian film industries. Telugu film producers came around on Thursday and new releases were allowed to hit the screens from Friday, following the DSPs agreeing to reworked terms. The Tamil industry, however, refused to accept the new terms.

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