A fter much deliberation, the Tamil Nadu government went with the recommendation of a High Level Committee and raised the base price of admission to a movie theatre by 25 per cent. “The ticket prices proposed by the film representatives are very high. Hence, in the interest of public welfare, the livelihood of the film industry and the financial situation of the state, the ticket prices may be increased by 25 per cent over the existing base price,” the panel had suggested after interacting with all stakeholders.
Tamil Nadu’s film ticket tariff had stayed frozen for close to a decade, so the upward revision ought to have been welcomed by the industry. But multiplex owners are in a sulk over the impact of double taxation.
For, each ticket is expected to fetch two types of taxes—the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Local Body Entertainment Tax (LBET). GST works in two slabs: 28 per cent for a ticket priced over Rs 100 and 18 per cent for the under Rs 100 bracket. Add to that 10 per cent LBET if it is a Tamil film and 20 per cent for other language films, and the cost of watching a film on the big screen in Chennai would take a big leap—in the Rs 240 range if you make an online booking from Monday.
Would that jump affect footfalls in the theatres? That is the big question worrying film producers and theatre owners, threatened as they already are by piracy and the mushrooming online movie streaming industry. As it is, the motivation to watch movies on the big screen is not high.
While the industry has reconciled itself to GST, it wants to get the LBET monkey off its back. But that possibility appears bleak as we speak as the government seems determined to get a slice of revenue into the local bodies’ coffers. There are allegations that the base price was raised only to justify the imposition of the LBET. How hard it will affect the industry will be known when theaters open on Monday.