Stalemate continues over 'Fanaa' release in multiplexes

May 25, 2006 IANS

Mumbai, May 24 (IANS) The impasse over the release of the Aamir Khan-Kajol starrer "Fanaa" in multiplexes is far from over, with distributors and exhibitors still squabbling over their share in profits Wednesday.

Yash Raj Films, the distributors of home production "Fanaa", have reportedly demanded a seven percent hike in the share of profits the film may earn in the first week of its release. But multiplex owners have rejected the demand. They say such a move would force them to increase ticket prices.

"As far as we are concerned, 'Fanaa' will be released as per schedule Friday, May 26. 'Fanaa' will be definitely playing at single-screen theatres. Other than that I have no comments. Negotiations are on," a spokesperson of Yash Raj Films told IANS.

Justifying Yash Raj's stance, "Fanaa" director Kunal Kohli has said, "We are being very fair in this regard and not asking the audience to pay more for the film. The audience will pay as much as they pay usually for any film release at a multiplex."

He said they are not forcing a hike in multiplex tickets rates for "Fanaa" but want to negotiate a better share in profits.

But countering the argument, a spokesperson for Adlabs Multiplexes told IANS the demand would force multiplexes to increase ticket prices and the audience would have to bear the extra burden.

"Unlike single-screen theatres, multiplexes provide audiences with added facilities and better comfort and viewing experiences. Our overhead costs are higher. Our tickets are usually five to eight times the price of single-screen theatres. And any further increase of ticket prices will hurt business," he said.

"Audiences in the metro cities are increasingly getting used to multiplexes, and a situation like this will adversely affect 'Fanaa's' box office chances. Especially when audiences are gearing up for a big-screen battle Friday with 'Fanaa' facing 'X-Men: The Last Stand' and the controversial global blockbuster 'The Da Vinci Code'," he said.

Even as the feud rages, other producers and distributors have jumped into the controversy. They say they will closely follow any change in profit-sharing ratios and will want to replicate the same when their films hit the theatres.

Producer-distributor Ronnie Screwvala of UTV Films which has the Kareena Kapoor-Shahid Kapoor starrer "Chup Chup Ke" lined up for release and Rakesh Rohan, who has handed over the distribution rights of his film "Krrish" to Yash Raj Films, are keenly following developments.

Echoing Kohli, Screwvala said, "They (multiplex owners) have formed a cartel. They have been given entertainment tax exemption by the state but they have not passed the benefits to anyone else."

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