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Welcome mat missing for Friday stars
- Plexes block new releases over revenue-sharing row with distributors

The two-player plex market has hit Calcutta’s cinegoers yet again.

With the INOX and Fame multiplex chains falling out with the distributors of the last two Bollywood biggies of 2007 — Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par (TZP) and Akshay Kumar-Katrina Kaif’s Welcome — audiences will have to throng standalone theatres to catch their favourite stars in action.

“The Calcutta market has only two multiplex players. As they have not struck a deal with the distributors (till late on Thursday), the plex audience will suffer. But in other metro cities, there are more plexes and some of the other chains in Mumbai and Delhi are playing the two films,” said a Bollywood trade analyst.

Like it has been the case with so many Bollywood films in the last couple of years, the dispute between the plexes and the national distributors has been over revenue-sharing. While the 50-50 sharing of the first week collections is not an issue, the percentage share in the second and third weeks — for both TZP and Welcome — is the thorn between the distributors and the plexes.

Engaging in a blame game, both sides are accusing each other. “The multiplex representatives are not even keen to negotiate any more and didn’t turn up for the meeting planned in Mumbai,” Ashish Shukla of PVR Cinemas, national distributors of TZP, told Metro on Thursday evening.

So, audiences interested in Aamir Khan’s directorial debut in TZP will have to visit Jyoti, Roxy, Navina or Priya. For those keen on the multistarrer “mafia marriage” in Welcome, the options will include Paradise, Menoka, Basusree and Talkie Show House.

The fresh fight over revenues is playing havoc with all the industry stakeholders. The multiplexes have no new Bollywood films to screen, forcing them to run more shows of the six-week-old Om Shanti Om, along with the new Feluda film, Kailase Kelenkari.

Also hit badly are the local distributors, who paid fat sums to buy prints of the “sureshot hits”. “We will suffer huge losses,” rued Mahendra Soni of Shree Venkatesh Films, Calcutta distributors of TZP.

“Unless new plex players come to Calcutta, the two-player market will continue to affect us,” he summed up.

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