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Silver screen’s big battle

The stand off between producers and multiplex owners over profit sharing has hit the industry in more ways than one, reports Manoj Sharma.

delhi Updated: May 31, 2009 00:59 IST
Manoj Sharma

Joseph Paul (41) has worked as a projectionist with single screen cinema halls for 20 years.

Paul is presently with Delite Cinema in the city and he says he is losing interest in his job. Not because of spending over two decades in the same profession, but because of the empty halls for the last one month.

The stand off between producers and multiplex owners over profit sharing has hit the industry in more ways than one.

“Through this hole, I not only keep looking at the quality of the picture, but also the reaction of the audiences,” said Paul. “Now I can see only a few heads.”

The mood is downcast at the city's single-screen cinema halls across the city, most of which are family-owned businesses.

“With no new releases, the occupancy at our cinema is 10-15 per cent,” said Uday Kaushish, director of Shiela Theatre.

Box offices, which were used to long queues, now see people in ones and twos.

“Occupancy rate these days is hardly 20 per cent. We are falling far short of meeting our running expenses,” said R.K. Malhotra, general manager at Delite Cinema. They have 100 people on the payroll and approximately Rs 18 lakh per month is needed in summers to run the cinema.

The trouble is also to decide on which films to show.

“Finding a film which can ensure all four shows go on through the week is a big problem,” he said, while working out the possibilities for next Friday.

Most single-screen halls charge a fixed rental from distributors unlike multiplexes that have a revenue sharing model with producers.

NR Saini (54) DGM, Golcha cinema, said: “We have totally different business model, yet we are paying a price for the feud.”