TIRUCHY: It has been more than a month since cinema lovers enjoyed a new Tamil movie starring their favourite stars with no end in sight as the strike called by the Tamil Nadu Film Producers Council over the high prices charged by digital service providers (DSPs).
Movie theatres in Tiruchy are generally abuzz with people of all ages queuing up at the front of ticket counters with huge frenzy of first day firs shows of top actors. Now, the cash registers are not ringing with the cinema halls wearing a deserted look.
Since March 1, no major Tamil flick has released due to the issue of service providers with cinema hall owners forced to show old movies or films of other languages including English and Hindi.
Sources said that Tiruchy's movie theatres are now running at a 70 per cent loss and 40 new films are ready for release but remain in the cans.
Syed Harshad, a college student from Khajamalai, said, “Whenever there are holidays, my friends and I go to watch the latest movies. The situation is not the same now. We have no movies to watch except old ones being shown since last month just to keep the theatres running.” S Sudha, a city resident, said, "There were hardly 10 people in the audience when I took my child to watch an animation film and no more than 20 vehicles in the parking lot."
The denizens in the city who love cinema are not too aware of the circumstances that have led to a freeze on new movies being shown.
Explaining the issue, G Thiyagarajan, owner of GT Film Distributors, said, “The strike is to protest against paying exorbitant prices to DSPs like UFO Moviez and Qube Cinemas. The demand is to either reduce or share the virtual print fees with exhibitors.” He said that hall owners are now staring at huge losses and showing old movies or those in other languages is one way of keeping their heads above water.
“It is a cycle. If a producer, distributor or exhibitor backs off, the other will face a hit. Thus, the protest is going on,” pointed out Thiyagarajan.
“With peak summer looming, people can find entertainment only in cinemas. A meeting was held in Chennai on Wednesday in this regard and the matter would be brought to the attention of the State government. Until then, the strike will continue,” said Thyagarajan.
The distributor had speculated that people would not be able to enjoy themselves at the movies during the Tamil New Year on April 14 (Saturday) and that is how it panned out with no major movies coming out except Karthik Subbaraj directed Mercury releasing on the day.