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Online ticketing: AP Govt’s move riles Tollywood

K V Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on November 25, 2021

Big budget movies to bear the brunt of AP’s decision

The Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to make it mandatory for cinema halls to sell their movie tickets through a government-run online platform is bad news for big budget movies that generally hope to rake in huge collections in the first few days of their releases.

Tollywood, the Telugu film industry, with an annual aggregate revenues of about ₹2,500-3,000 crore, asks the government to revise the ticket prices upwards to cover the theatre maintenance costs and returns on the investments on film production.

The State government’s decision will curb the practice of increasing the ticket prices steeply for ‘benefit shows’ or special shows in the first few days of film releases in order to cash in on the frenzy.

Post the pandemic, the Tollywood industry has saved some of the big budget movies for release in the upcoming festive season. The list includes Chiranjeevi-starrer Acharya, Pawan Kalyan-starrer Bheemla Nayak, and the much-awaited RRR, the multi-starrer movie (Nr NTR and Ramcharan) directed by Rajamouli, Mahesh Babu’s Sarkaru Vaari Paata, and Balakrishna’s Akhanda.

The producers of big budget films book almost all of the screens in a town or a city and go for additional shows, exceeding the four shows allowed according to the Cinematography Act, and hike the prices of tickets abnormally.

The number of theatres in the two Telugu States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana fell to 1,750 now from about 3,000 about 20 years ago. Of the 1,750 theatres, Andhra Pradesh has about 1,100.

Noted actor Chiranjeevi has appealed to the State Government to reconsider its decision on ticket pricing and asked it to revise the fares factoring in the needs of the industry.

Welcoming the move to to introduce an online ticketing platform, he said that ticket prices should be on par with the prices in other States.

A senior producer told BusinessLine that the new move would impact the small percentage of films that earned a major chunk of the revenues. “About 15-20 per cent of the movies constitute 80 per cent of the total revenues,” he said.

Talking on capping the ticket prices (in a lower band), he said the theatre owners must be incentivised to improve the facilities in the halls. “The cost of maintenance has gone up. Also, they need to invest heavily on improving facilities,” he said.

Amendment to curb illegal practices

According to the amendment made to the Cinematography Act by the government, the producers will have to sell the tickets online (on a site to be set up by the Govt) at the rates fixed by the government.

Explaining the rationale behind bringing in the amendment, AP Cinematography Minister Perni Nani said that some producers were screening 6-7 shows a day in violation of the Act. “They are also hiking the ticket prices to ₹500-1,000 under the guise of benefit shows,” he said.

The online ticket booking system will allow the people to buy tickets at prices regulated by the government.

Increasing ticket prices

The film industry argues that they are increasing the ticket prices in the first few days to make quick returns before the film is pirated and screened on illegal websites. “They are circulating the links of the pirated copies in social media platforms,” a film director said.

Faced with a prospect of heavy losses, a team comprising top producers and actors might send a representation to the State government to reconsider its decision.

 

Published on November 25, 2021

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