Movie watching is still a costly experience

Movie watching is still a costly experience

Since January 1, lower GST has made movie watching a wee bit more affordable. Also, multiplexes are trying to assuage public outrage against high popcorn pricing

Stakeholders in the movie industry were hoping that reduced ticket prices would bring more audience to the cinema halls but high food prices remain a deterrent.

The price of movie-going has come down marginally in Bengaluru, thanks to lowered GST and popcorn prices.

Starting January 1, the government had promised moviegoers cheaper movie tickets.

Accordingly, the GST on tickets priced below Rs 100 has come down from 18 to 12 per cent, and on tickets priced above Rs 100 from 28 to 18 per cent. 

The movie industry had said the tax cuts would make the movie experience more affordable and bring in more viewers. 

It is been a week since the new rates came into effect, and Deepak Asher, president of the Multiplex Association of India, told Metrolife the audience numbers haven’t shown any dramatic change.

“We’re hoping for more footfalls in the coming days. It’s too early to comment on the impact,” he told Metrolife.

He says viewer numbers depend on many factors — the hall, the film and the holiday season.

Viewers meanwhile were wondering how saving between Rs 8 and Rs 20 on a ticket would make movie watching cheaper when they have to pay a ransom for snacks during the interval. 

That’s an ongoing battle, but we have good news: the price of popcorn has come down a wee bit at the multiplexes.

In June last year, the Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government why it could not regulate the prices of snacks sold at the multiplexes.

This was in response to a public-interest case filed by moviegoer Jainendra Baxi through his lawyer Aditya Pratap. The case is now in the Supreme Court, Pratap told Metrolife.

“The point of the PIL was to understand why moviegoers can’t carry personal food items and water into the cinema halls. This will now be discussed in the Supreme Court and we are waiting for a hearing date,” he said over the phone from Mumbai.

Neither Cinepolis nor PVR Cinemas would comment on popcorn and snack pricing for this story.
However, Devang Sampat, director, strategic initiatives, Cinépolis India, is optimistic about the GST cut, and foresees a revenue increase of about 20 per cent because of lower ticket pricing.

“It will provide the much-needed impetus and help in expanding the network of screens in India,” he says.

Popcorn cheaper
On July 2, 2018, Metrolife had reported how steep food prices in multiplexes had come under the Mumbai High Court’s scrutiny.

The price of a large popcorn in PVR cinema was then Rs 360. It has now come down to Rs 300. But overall, the prices of snacks remain high. For eg., an egg puff priced between Rs 20 and Rs 40 outside is sold at Rs 120 inside the multiplexes. A 300 ml Coca Cola costs Rs 40 outside, but the same drink served in a paper cup is priced at Rs 120 inside a multiplex.

REALITY CHECK: Metrolife at the movies
To see how much it now costs to watch a movie at a multiplex, Metrolife booked tickets for ‘Bumblebee’ on BookMyShow for Sunday.

Ticket for 2: Rs 590 (approximately Rs 700 before January 1, depending
on the movie)
Large salted popcorn:
Rs 240 (Rs 340 in July 2018)
Internet handling fee now:
Rs 75.52
Total now: Rs 907.52
Total then: Rs 1,190(approx)
Less by: Around Rs 283

Ticket for 2: Rs 470 (approximately Rs 650 before January 1 , depend on the movie)
Large salted popcorn:
Rs 300 (Rs 280 in July 2018)
Internet handling fee now:
Rs 75.52
Total now: Rs 833.72
Total then: Rs 1,080(approx)
Less by: Around Rs 247