Mall pulls the plug on plex

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 20.02.09

The retail slowdown has, for the moment, claimed a big-ticket victim in town — the giant multiplex screen in Mani Square.

The city’s first IMAX screen and three Cinemax screens in the Bypass mall have gone dark following an alleged dispute over rental dues. No film has been screened at the mall since Wednesday evening.

“The multiplex has not cleared its dues and so electricity has been disconnected,” said a source in Mani Square.

The official word from the mall, the youngest among the city’s big four, though was that the four-screen plex had been shut down “for a few days” because of a “technical hitch”.

Ravi Mahapatra, the general manager (operations) of the mall, said: “It’s nothing more than a technical issue.”

IMAX officials claimed that the plex had shut down “because of an air-conditioning problem” and that “repair work was on” and things should be sorted out “in the next couple of days”.

IMAX sources, however, said the six-week-old plex was not generating enough footfall to pay the pre-fixed rentals. “Average occupancy has been as low as 15 per cent,” was the whisper from the plex.

The IMAX screen, the third in India after Hyderabad and Mumbai, boasts of 450 seats while the three Cinemax screens together house another 758 seats.

Officials of Cinemax — a sub-lessee of IMAX — said IMAX had run into some “technical issues” with the mall management and so the entire property had been shut down. “The issues are being sorted out and the plex should open soon,” an official claimed.

Retailers in Mani Square, reeling under falling footfall and rising rentals, have been pressuring the mall management to replace fixed monthly rentals with revenue-sharing.

“There is a serious mismatch between exorbitant rentals and dwindling business,” rued a retailer in Mani Square, which opened on June 17. “Everyone is bleeding and so the flashpoint reached between the mall authorities and the multiplex does not come as a surprise. The cry for rent rationalisation — and even waiver — is bound to grow louder now.”

P.S: “Aagey toh hoini… this is a first in the city,” Subhas Chakraborty had said after inaugurating IMAX on January 9, sporting large blue-rimmed 3-D glasses and gaping at images 10 times the normal size.

The same can be said — “aagey toh hoini” — of the larger-than-life IMAX flop show in town.