SHOULD MARATHI PRODUCERS BE GIVEN THE FREEDOM TO HIKE ADMISSION RATES FOR FILMS?
The recent success of Sairat, which set a new precedent for the box-office business of Marathi films, witnessed heavy black marketing of tickets at some single screen theatres, with tickets selling at double the prices. A few single screen exhibitors and Marathi producers recently opined that producers, exhibitors and distributors were losing out on added revenue in superhit Marathi films, due to the ceiling on admission rates fixed for Marathi films imposed by the State Government. Should the Marathi film producers be given the freedom to hike the admission rates marginally of their films to facilitate better revenues for the Marathi film trade, especially since audiences are prepared to pay more and a marginal hike will not make a difference to their pockets? A section of Marathi producers and exhibitors voiced their opinion.
By Manishaa R
T.P. Aggarwal- F.F.I and IMPPA President, Producer and Publisher
I don’t think the extraordinary business of Marathi films should be viewed in the context of Sairat and a few other Marathi films that did exceptional business. If you take the ratio of hit Marathi films, only a fraction of them actually prove to hit the jackpot. The rest invariably get lost at the box-office. If the ceiling on admission rates is revised, it will directly impact the business of these films. Also, apart from the content, the affordable admission rates, are one of the main reasons why Marathi films are finding increasing patronage among audiences. As for the hits, the fact that they are getting repeat audiences is definitely generating great revenue.
Krishika Lulla (Eros International):
The Government has fixed a ceiling on admission rates of Marathi films both in multiplexes and single screens and that has worked well for the industry so far. Also most of the Marathi movies are made on shoe-string budgets. The Government’s decision to fix the rates was done to ensure that films would be affordable to everyone. If the admission rates are increased, the Marathi speaking audiences may not want to see them because their pricing will be on par with Bollywood films. I think it is good to continue the existing structure to encourage the market for Marathi films. In fact, it would be better if the admission rates of Hindi movies are brought down marginally to boost up their business.
Vijay Patkar (Director-Marathi Chitrapat Mahamandal):
I don’t think it may be a wise decision. Just because some films work once in a while, you cannot exploit the audiences and extract more money from them for all Marathi films. Besides, how many such films really work at the box-office? Sairat is an exception and it is a miracle of sorts. You cannot compare the pricing of Hindi films and Marathi films. The exhibitors charge as much as 500 and Rs 1000 for star-studded Hindi films in their first three days run and swindle the audiences. The Government does not have problems either because it is earning them extra revenue by way of Entertainment Tax. Marathi films are made on small budgets and the low admission rates are meant to encourage the Marathi audiences to visit the theatres. We should think about the Marathi audiences.”
I don’t agree with the same. Marathi films are tax free and the benefit of the rate should be passed on to the public. Anyway the option of increasing the rate and reducing the exhibitor’s share of service charge is available with the exhibitor. Marathi movies are doing great business already with the existing rates and the recent example is that of Sairat, which is the biggest grosser of Marathi cinema. Increasing rates does not necessarily translate into higher business; it is the content that has to work.
Devang Sampat (Cinepolis):
I guess it is a very good suggestion. Whether it is a Marathi movie or any other language movie, we are in a free economy where pricing should be done based on the demand for a particular product. I think exhibitors should be allowed to charge admission rates in keeping with the demand for a film. Besides that benefit will be passed to the entire chain. It will also benefit the patrons because with increased revenue, the quality of production will automatically improve. Also a marginal price hike will definitely not make a difference to the pockets of the audiences. It will also bring a better revenue share to the producer.
Akshaye Rathi (Rathi Group of Cinemas):
Films like Sairat, Katyal Kaljat Ghusli and Natsamrat, are released once in a while and you cannot change the policy entirely for all films, just because these films have clicked in a big way. Also I believe that a huge chunk of credit for the success of these films goes to the fact that they are delivered to the audiences at reasonable admission rates. If the ticket rates of these films would have been at Rs 300 and Rs 400, I don’t think they would have had half as much of the repeat audiences. I believe that this model is really working well and we just need to make great content and make it available to the audience. It is the Hindi film industry in fact which needs to take a cue from the affordable pricing of Marathi films.
Nanubhai Jaisinghani (Producer of Duniyadari)
It is a good idea but it depends from film to film. If I as a producer have great confidence in my film and the admission rates are increased from Rs 100 to Rs 125, there will be 25 percent more collections. As it is there is no entertainment tax and the full money comes to the producer. I think it will certainly be a good move for selected movies. Take the instance of Sairat, which I can predict will safely fetch around Rs 90 crores. Had the ticket rates been a little higher, it would easily have crossed Rs 100 crores by today. I think if the Marathi producer body makes a proper representation to the Government, one can look at this possibility.