ENTERTAINMENT

Tickets for indie films, the OTT release schedule, and the impasse between TN theaters and producers

For the last several months, there has been a tough patch at the Tamil movie box office. The present situation may be attributed to the four-week OTT window and a dearth of high-quality material.

The Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors’ Association received a request from the Tamil Film Active Producers Association recently allowing theaters to lower the price of small-scale film tickets in an effort to draw in customers. The proprietors of the theater rejected the offer and have now made their own demands. We discussed the problem with a few producers and exhibitors.
According to producer SR Prabhu, the proposal to lower ticket costs is just that—a request, not a mandate. “The choice will be based on the theater owners’ comfort level with the concept,” he states. We would want to know whether people would still rather watch tiny films on television or their phones, or if they would visit the theaters if the cost of the tickets were reduced.

When ticket prices were lowered for re-releases like 3 and Vaaranam Aayiram, audiences did show up. Our aim is to tackle the viewpoint of the viewers — little films don’t always have to be seen in theaters. We want to investigate if offering the same pricing for all films makes consumers less likely to choose to see them in theaters. Producer G Dhananjayan said, “We are not discussing whether or not such a move would assist producers or theater owners. In fact, as manufacturers’ shares would decrease as a consequence, they can even lose money.

However, if lower ticket prices increase the number of attendees, it will ultimately benefit everyone, he continues.
Exhibitors counter that hefty maintenance costs mean that lowering ticket prices won’t benefit them. “Producers should petition the government to lower the power bill and other theater upkeep costs if they want us to lower ticket prices. The last two months have seen significant losses for us. Producers seek a fifty-five percent stake in small-budget films. In contrast, we get 30% for larger films, whereas single screens only receive 20%.

According to Panneerselvam, general secretary of the Tamil Film Exhibitors’ Association and proprietor of Rohini Theatres, “We are forced to cover the expenses from our own pocket if any expenditure goes up.”
“Right now, every theater is in a pitiful condition. Accordingly, how can ticket sellers expect a discount when the EB cost alone for a single screen is ₹4.7 lakh? The theater owners will lower their costs for a good movie as well, if they feel it’s essential, according to one exhibitor source who wishes to remain anonymous.

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