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Concerned Tamil Nadu theatre owners to discuss strike tomorrow in Chennai

Industry experts feel that if the strike persists for a longer time, some theatres may even have to face the possibility of being shut down.

Manigandan KR

Theatre owners in Tamil Nadu have called for a meeting tomorrow (8 March) at 3pm in Chennai to discuss the ongoing strike called by the South Indian Film Producers'Council. The strike prohibits theatres from releasing any new movies in protest against the exhorbitant amounts charged by digital service providers for screening films.

It may be recalled that the South Indian Film Producers'Council and the digital service providers are locked in a grim battle over the charges for the Virtual Print Fee (VPF). Extending support to the Telugu Film Producers Council's call for a strike from 1 March, the Tamil Film Producers' Council announced that no new films would be releaseed in Tamil Nadu from 1 March too.

Subsequent talks held between the Tamil Film Producers' Council and the digital service providers haven't yielded any positive results and the former recently announced that as the talks had failed, the move to stop new films from releasing will continue. They also issued a warning saying disciplinary action will be taken against producers who go against the council's decision and their new films.

As a result, no new films have released in the state. This has drastically reduced footfalls in theatres, leaving theatre owners worried.

Most theatre owners continue to screen films that were released a few weeks before the strike was announced, like Naachiyaar (released on 16 February), Kalakalappu 2 (released on 9 February) and Mannar Vagaiyara (released on 26 January). Some theatres have also opted to screen classics, while others have chosen to screen films that did well when they were first released, like Atlee Kumar's Mersal (2017) and Sivaji Jayakumar's Vivegam (2017).

"The situation is worrying. We have only 10 to 15 people coming in for shows in some theatres. Certain theatres have cancelled shows as they have not got enough audiences. In fact, there are theatres which have cancelled even three shows in a day," a source said.

Industry experts feel that if the strike persists for a longer time, some theatres may even have to face the possibility of being shut down.

Commenting on the issue, the joint secretary of the Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners' Association, S Sridhar, said, "As a result of the strike by the producers' council, shows are being cancelled in theatres. The loss has been huge. Even calculating at the rate of a crore, which is the bare minimum, there has been a loss of Rs5 crores in 5 days. The Film Producers' Council must take steps to resolve the issue amaicably and bring new films to theatres. To discuss and take a decision on this issue, a meeting of theatre owners has been arranged in Chennai at 3pm."

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