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Maharashtra cinema hall strike called off


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Cinema hall owners in Maharashtra called off their 19-day-old strike Tuesday after the state government gave in to their demand for lowering entertainment tax.

The government announced Tuesday it would reduce the tax by 10 percent and allow cinema owners to retain a portion of the tax.

Welcoming the decision, the Cinematograph Exhibitors Association of India and the Theatre Owners Association called off the strike.

Shortly afterwards, theatres opened in many parts of the state.

All theatres across the state would open by Wednesday.

Since March 19, about 900 cinema halls in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra have been on a strike, demanding reduction in entertainment tax.

Theatre owners averred the tax, amounting to 55 percent of the ticket price, was impacting their business as people preferred to watch movies at home.

Some 40 theatres in Mumbai alone have so far closed down due to high operating costs.

Theatre owners complained about incentives provided to multiplexes that were eating into their audiences.

Multiplexes do not pay entertainment tax for the first three years and only 25 percent for the subsequent two years.

Though the law does not permit multiplexes from pricing tickets lower than single-screen theatres, the economics of the film industry are heavily loaded in favour of the new complexes, theatre owners said.

For one, most new films released do not attract enough viewers due to which the bigger theatres go empty. Multiplexes, with smaller halls, often attract a full house.

Mumbai has nearly 30 multiplexes, with more slated to open in the next few months. Quite a few of these have come up in existing theatre premises that have been converted to shopping-cum-entertainment complexes.


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