The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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More movies for less at plex

Coming up, a Bollywood blockbuster at a city multiplex for just Rs 30.

The latest multiplex in town has lined up a Diwali gift for cine-goers ' plunging ticket prices.

Four months after Metro had highlighted how Calcuttans coughed up the most for a multiplex movie in any metro, Fame (Hiland Park) is set to reverse the ticket trend.

Ever since INOX and 89 Cinemas stormed the city's cine scene, Calcutta has been paying a minimum of Rs 50 and a maximum of Rs 225 for a show.

But now, the Mumbai multiplex plans to send prices crashing to a minimum of Rs 30 and a maximum of Rs 100.

The reason is more obvious than a Bollywood plot. 'We have to get the footfall straightaway,' says Shringar Cinemas managing director Shravan Shroff. 'Our research has shown that Calcuttans pay more than they should and we want to set that record straight. By keeping the morning shows so cheap, we want to get the college crowd in and it can spread the word thick and fast.'

Setting of ticket prices now depends on the discretion of the screen-owners, with a pre-set 30 per cent entertainment tax being factored in. So, if a multiplex charges Rs 100 as 'admin' fees, the Rs-30 tax pushes the ticket price to Rs 130.

The impact of the Fame price slash could take some time to travel ' from Survey Park in deep south to Elgin Road and Salt Lake ' but it's just a matter of time before it sparks a plex price war and adds a vital paragraph to the obituary of single-screen theatres.

'We won't change our ticket prices because of Fame,' asserts Vikas Syal, general manager of INOX (Forum). 'We have had record footfalls at the existing prices. And the location we are catering to, people don't mind paying extra money for the luxuries we provide.'

89 Cinemas, at Swabhumi, agrees that the catchment a multiplex reaches out to decides the ticket pricing. Says general manager Prashant Srivastava: 'A new property needs to have a bait initially to get people in and that's the reason Fame's going for such low pricing. But for us to bring our prices down, there needs to be more multiplexes in the same area. So, once more plex properties come up in the future, our current prices would have to come down and stabilise.'

But what the low ticket prices at Fame (Hiland Park) should effectively do is stifle the standalone theatres even further. 'After this, halls in that zone of the city, like Mohua, Malancha, Padmasree and even Navina, will feel the heat. They will lower their prices even further, struggle to sustain business and eventually close down,' feels distributor and exhibitor Arijit Dutta.

'All that the multiplexes intend to do is kill the single-screen theatres,' adds the man behind Priya and Globe.

The movie-goer, of course, has little cause for complaint ' competition, after all, is bringing the consumer more movies for less.

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