Theatres across Tamil Nadu are protesting against the new municipal tax.
Chennai: No films will be screened at cinema halls across Tamil Nadu from today, indefinitely, as their owners protest against a 30 per cent municipal tax that the state government has announced apart from the levies that have kicked in under the new Goods and Services Tax or GST regime. They have cancelled screenings and shut halls demanding that the municipal tax be withdrawn. They want only a single GST tax, saying both together will be an unaffordable 60 per cent.
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Tamil Nadu's Film Exhibitors Association has also said that the government should allow them to hike prices of movie tickets "reasonably." Superstar Kamal Haasan said, "The whole industry is gathering together and we shall speak in one voice."
The release of the R Madhavan- Vijay Sethupathi starrer Vikram Vedha, the only big film releasing in the state this week, could be hit by the protest.
"We are all one family. This 30% tax is not just for the exhibitors but the producers too who will mainly face problems. We are hoping that the state government will bring some relief," said actor Vishal Krishna.
Before GST was launched at midnight on Friday, movie theatres in Tamil Nadu paid a 30 per cent entertainment tax to local bodies. Nikilesh Surya, Executive Director, Rohini Silver Screens said, "With 60 percent tax we can't survive."
They have also protested against the scrapping under the GST regime, of a tax waiver if movies had a Tamil title and a U certificate that allows children to watch a film.
"Though the Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors Association had decided on Friday to cancel shows from July 3, many theatres shut down yesterday itself," the association's president Abirami Ramanathan said on Sunday, adding about 1,000 cinema halls state-wide are shut now.
Theatres, he said, were shut due to "our inability to pay (taxes) and our move is not against the government."
Mr Ramamnathan pointed out that the local body tax of 30 per cent was in addition to the GST tax rate of 28 per cent for tickets that cost over Rs. 100 and 18 per cent for tickets priced less than Rs. 100. He said an additional levy of about eight per cent under GST would push total taxes to over 60 per cent.
If the state government removed the local body tax of 30 per cent, it would automatically take away the additional eight per cent levy under GST, he said.
Mr Ramanathan said they have requested the state government to fix a threshold below which they should be allowed to increase ticket prices or cut them as needed. The Tamil Nadu film industry directly and indirectly employs about 10 lakh people, he said.