BENGALURU:The increase in the renewal of annual licence fees for movie halls in Karnataka has forced members of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) to submit a representation against it. “We will submit a representation to the home department and to Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, requesting them to reduce the hike to a nominal amount. The increase in licence fee is not proportional, but a massive jump by 300-400 per cent. Film exhibitors and distributors are already starving, as the number of Kannada films have gone down for the last one year,” says Jairaj, executive committee member of exhibitors and former vice-president of exhibitors sector.
An exhibitors meeting was held on Friday to discuss the representation. KFCC members are worried over the increased expenditure caused by the hike. After nearly two decades of paying `1,000 for 100 square metres of the cinema hall, they will now have to pay `4,500 for the same space. Moreover, they will have to pay `2,250 for every additional 50 square metres, as opposed to the previous `500.
"Previously, stars such as Vishnuvardhan and Rajkumar would release three to four films a year. These days, actors are taking two to three years to release one film. Exhibitors are struggling throughout the year. The expenditure is the same to us, no matter how big or small the film is," Jairaj says, adding, "The state also receives GST money from us. Why do they need more? A proportional license fee hike to `1,050 or `1,100 would be better."
Jairaj, and others like him, feel the impact would be worse on single-screen theatres. Be it Bengaluru or smaller cities, towns and districts in Karnataka, they believe single-screen cinema halls will not sustain and may shut down.
Thomas D’Souza, exhibitor and vice-president, South India Film Chamber of Commerce says, "We will share how exactly this will impact us with the authorities. Our collections are reducing as it is. For single-screen theatre owners, it will be impossible to pay this amount.We are planning to submit a representation to the under secretary and deputy secretary of the Home Department, and to the chief minister."
Owner of Veeresha Theatre and past president of KFCC, KV Chandrashekar, says, "The notification to increase the license fee was pending for a while now. The hike was expected, but this amount is a little too much. We are planning to appeal for a reduction. They may agree to reduce it by 10 to 15 per cent only."
Mixed response from cinegoers
A few cinegoers are unhappy at the thought of paying more for tickets as a result of the license fee hike, while a few are okay with it. “I am not willing to shell out any more money for the poor quality experienced at multiplexes in India. The theatres are poorly maintained and the snacks are exorbitantly priced. I'd rather download the movie and watch it at home,” says Shagufta Noor, a software engineer. Echoing the sentiment, Ann Goena, a 19-year-old hotel management student, says, “I would much rather watch a movie on Netflix than pay for movie tickets.” On the other hand, depending on the movie and how often they frequent the theatre, some are willing to pay more. “It depends on the movie. I paid `300 to watch a Salman Khan movie in an ordinary theatre in a small town. Thus, unless it's a much-awaited movie, I won't pay extra,” says Shefali, a chartered accountancy student. “As such, the price wouldn't make much of a difference. We go to theatres once in a while to relax and unwind. For that, we are willing to pay any price," says Keerthana, an architecture student.