Updated: January 11, 2017 3:41:49 pm
The ongoing stand-off between distributors and exhibitors in Kerala has stalled the release of all new Malayalam films since December 16 and it will now affect the other language films too, after the association of the Kerala exhibitors decided to shut the theatres under its purview from Thursday. The Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation held a press conference on Tuesday to announce its decision, which was taken during the latest meeting. At the press meet, the office-bearers rubbished the reports that a section of members were not happy with the exhibitors association, President Liberty Basheer’s stance and was willing to defy him by screening new films in ‘B’ class theatres.
“The decision to shut down theatres were taken unanimously. But, we are open for talks with the government to resolve the dispute,” Basheer told the reporters. More than 350 screens out of the total 520 in Kerala, which are part of the federation, will down their shutters indefinitely if producers and distributors refuse to give into their demands.
However, Vijay’s film Bairavaa will be released in Kerala on multiplex screens and theatres run by the state government and non-federation members. The Kerala distributor of the Tamil film has also warned the protesting theatre owners of legal action if they fail to honour their prior agreement.
“Those who have entered into agreement with M/S. Sayujyam Cine Release, Kottayam for screening of Tamil film Bairavaa, since your association namely Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation have decided to close down the theatres on and from 12th January 2017 by forming a cartel by using your dominant position in the Exhibitors sector, which is violative of competition Act 2002. If you adhere with the decision of the Federation, you are liable to pay all the losses sustained by us and we are forced to recover the same through legal remedies. If you do not screen the picture as per the agreement it is a clear violation under the competition commission of India Competition Act 2002,” warned Sayujyam Cine Release, in a newspaper ad, which is distributing the film in Kerala on behalf of Ifar International.
The stalemate in the Malayalam film industry is caused by the demand of the exhibitors to revise their revenue sharing policy, which has been in place since 2003. According to the existing agreement, theatre owners get 40 percent of the box office collection, while 60 percent of the revenue goes to the producers in the first week of a new film. However, now they are demanding a parity with multiplex screens, which get to keep 50 percent of the box office revenue.
Vijay has a large fan-following in the God’s Own Country. His film Theri opened in over 150 screens and kept the cash registers ringing at the box office. However, due to the ongoing crisis, the film will now release on about 70 screens.
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