GST: Single screen exhibitors in fix

Some theatres hike rates; few wait for clarity before deciding on fares

With a couple of days left for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to come into effect, confusion over its pros and cons remains to be addressed, especially among film exhibitors in the city.

While some of the theatres have increased the ticket rates including GST component, some others are still working out. They are, however, prescient over difficult times ahead for sandalwood.

Vasanth Rao of Ramakanthi Theatre here told DH, “I enrolled under GST a month ago and submitted the new rates to taxmen, dearer by Rs 10 for respective classes including balcony and second classes. Post-GST, the ticket for balcony class will cost Rs 70 as against Rs 60 earlier. It includes Rs 59.32 rate of admission and Rs 10.68 GST. For second class, it will be Rs 60 (including Rs 50.85 for rate of admission and Rs 9.15 for GST). With two theatres, Ramakanthi and Roopavani located close-by, we have fixed common fares.”

Dying industry

Rao, however, added that the apprehension remains, with the already-dying single theatres facing yet another crisis in the form of GST.

As per the soon-to-be-implemented GST, tickets priced below Rs 100 attract 18% tax and above Rs 100, 28% tax. According to the existing rules, theatres are earning from selling tickets too with 2% service charge, other than the rent charged for 28 shows a week (four shows a day), for exhibiting the flicks. The taxes paid are Rs 48 per show as show tax, health cess of Rs 7.20 and 1% of the gross earnings as Indian News Reel cess.

The spending does not stop here, as there are other expenditures like power bills, water bills, renewal of exhibition licence and maintenance.

Onslaught on Kannada

The spectre of onslaught on Kannada films begins with GST, as the regional language films will no longer enjoy 100% tax-free benefit. It will fuel trouble for the already-grappling film industry, Rao added, adducing at the dip in quality of films in Kannada with only the rarest of rare films setting the cash registers ringing in collections.

Ravishankar, manager at Jyoti talkies located in the heart of the city, said, “The existing rate is Rs 80 for balcony class, Rs 70 for lower and Rs 50 for front rows (popularly known as Gandhi class, for people belonging to plebeian class mostly occupying the seats in front rows). We are still working out and may stretch the rate by Rs two or retain the existing fare.”

Quality films

The cry for quality films will increase, with Kannada films facing stiff competition from other language films. Earlier, the other language films attracted 30% tax in the state, which will fade into oblivion once the GST with uniform tax slab is implemented, said Ravishankar.

Ravi, manager at Suchitra and Prabhat theatres, said, “I have sought for a clarity over many aspects related to GS regarding theatre concern. With the top honchos of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce set to meet Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, a clarity is expected to emerge in a day or two, enabling exhibitors across the board to fix a common rate.”

However, no one cannot rule out that maintenance of theatres henceforth will be a costly affair, he added.

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