The plea made by the Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitor’s Association to the state government to reconsider ticket pricing regulations has shed light on the formidable challenges faced by cinemas across South India as they attempt to expand their operations. The struggle is not confined to Tamil Nadu alone; it reverberates throughout the region, where multiplex chains and theatre owners find themselves entangled in a web of rising expenses and restricted ticket prices.
Despite the promising prospects that the Southern region holds for the movie industry, the endeavor to introduce or expand luxury formats, such as IMAX and 4DX, is met with formidable obstacles due to stringent price limitations. In Telangana, the ceiling on ticket prices for regular seats stands at ₹295, while the prices for recliner seats are constrained to ₹350. A similar scenario plays out in Andhra Pradesh, where the cap stands at ₹177 and ₹295, respectively. Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, the upper limit is set at ₹150, a figure that does not include applicable taxes.
The potential adoption of premium formats is accompanied by the prospect of a notable 20-30% escalation in ticket rates, according to experts. However, the stringent price caps imposed in South Indian states cast a shadow over the feasibility and profitability of offering premium cinema experiences. This situation stands in stark contrast to North Indian states, where the absence of such price restrictions facilitates the expansion of luxury formats.
The cinema industry in South India operates within a landscape infused with political sensitivities. Here, decisions about ticket prices and the frequency of shows during weekdays are frequently dictated by state authorities. The dominance of single-screen cinemas in the market further underscores the challenge, as distribution networks often remain under the control of industry insiders. This dynamic curtails the bargaining power that multiplexes typically enjoy, particularly in comparison to their counterparts in the North.
Although Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have experienced some post-pandemic recalibration of cinema ticket prices, the heart of the challenge lies in Tamil Nadu. Experts within the industry contend that eliminating price caps could pave the way for a robust proliferation of both premium and non-premium cinema formats in the region. The discerning South Indian audience, known for their keen appreciation of technical nuances, stands to gain significantly from the removal of these restrictive price barriers. Consequently, this transformation could catalyze an expansive evolution of the cinematic landscape, ushering in a new era of diverse and immersive viewing experiences.