September 19, 2012 / 1:03 PM / 5 years ago

Strike threat looms over Bollywood's festival season

MUMBAI (Reuters) - More than 500 single-screen cinemas in Maharashtra are expected to go on strike next month to protest entertainment taxes in the state, threatening box-office revenues as Bollywood readies for the festival season.

“We are going on strike during the festival period so that no one can accuse us of not being serious,” R.R. Vidhani, president of Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association India (COEAI), told Reuters. “We will lose business but the government will also lose business. They should understand that.”

The owners of single-screen cinemas are also demanding ‘user change’ permissions that would allow them to shut loss-making cinemas and use the land for other activities.

“This means that if a single screen shuts down, it cannot be utilised for any other purpose,” said Vidhani. “If my father was a doctor and ran a clinic, why should I also be forced to run the same?”

The indefinite strike is expected to begin on October 12 and threatens the box-office collections of films releasing in the Oct-Dec quarter -- with a series of festivals and holidays such as Diwali and Christmas.

“Aiyyaa”, starring Rani Mukerji, opens on cinemas the same day, with Prakash Jha’s “Chakravyuh” and Karan Johar’s “Student of the Year” releasing later in October.

Trade analyst Vajir Singh said the strike, if carried out, would affect revenues significantly.

“Single-plexes hold a major share, around 20-30 percent of revenue,” he said.

Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Tony Tharakan

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