Multiplexes in Gujarat reel under meltdown heat

On Wednesday,Shah and his friend could not watch the movie Delhi 6 at Cinemax theatre in Rajkot. The reason: the 5.15 pm show was cancelled as there were very few viewers for the movie.

Written by Hiral Dave | Rajkot | Published:February 28, 2009 1:56 am

On Wednesday,Shah and his friend could not watch the movie Delhi 6 at Cinemax theatre in Rajkot. The reason: the 5.15 pm show was cancelled as there were very few viewers for the movie.

The fate of the Oscar award winning film Slumdog Millionaire is no different. Its shows have been cancelled too.

According to data received from the Entertainment Tax Department,multiplexes are going through difficult times. “Recently,multiplexes had to cancel morning and afternoon shows at the last minute because of the low sale of tickets. Other shows are also being run at an occupancy rate of around 20 per cent,” said L Bhambhania,Deputy Collector,Entertainment Tax,Saurashtra region.

For some time now,consumer-starved malls have pinned hopes on silver screens to increase footfalls. Movie-goers,however,don’t think that spending a minimum of Rs 100 on watching a movie in a multiplex is a wise option these days.

Multiplexes in Ahmedabad,the city which boasts to have begun the multiplex culture in India,are also reeling under the meltdown heat. The top six multiplexes in the city have started offering special ticket rates in a bid to run the show.

On Wednesday,tickets at many multiplexes in Ahmedabad were available at Rs 75 instead of Rs 100.

“People are facing a cash crunch and the industry is going through tough times. We have decided to cancel morning and extra shows,” said Sanjay Dalia of Kankia Group. The group owns a chain of multiplexes across India by the name of Cinemax. Harit Kothari,senior manager of N G group,said,“Like retail markets,cinema halls have also been badly hit. The multiplexes are trying new ways to attract more movie watchers. These include slashing ticket rates and providing free snacks.”

According to Dalia,a single show costs them over Rs 4,000. If occupancy is less than 30 per cent,the owner may not even recover operational expenses. He said about 25 percent of the revenue generated from the sale of the tickets goes towards paying tax to the state entertainment department.

In the last three months,it was only Ghajini that could generate some money. The rest,including Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye,Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Billu were run even when there were hardly 10 to 30 movie watchers in the hall. If Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi could pull good crowd on the first weekend,the rest failed to get even a decent opening.

Dalia said: “February to April is always bad for theatres because of exams in schools and colleges. The time is really bad for theatres.” He added: “Moreover,thanks to the two month-long IPL tournament starting from April,the industry cannot hope to be back on track before June-July.”

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