Gov approves differential pricing, but producers worry

Hollywood studios and exhibs complaining about lagging box office might want to take a look at the Indian approach.

Distribs unspooling the Telugu-language “Jai Chiranjeeva,” starring popular thesp Chiranjeevi, were allowed to up ticket prices by 75% from 75¢ to $1.30 for the first two weeks following its Dec. 21 release.

On Jan. 4, tickets for the comedy about a man who travels to the U.S. to take revenge on terrorists will revert to the lower price.

The government of the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and capital Hyderabad has approved differential pricing in theaters, which frees theater owners to raise ticket prices based on the budget and stars of films for the first two weeks.

Even Bollywood pics starring thesps such as Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan would benefit.

However, producers worry that stars will insist their tickets be sold at a premium no matter what the market conditions.

Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy had tried to placate film fans in May when he abolished tiered pricing. This also cut prices for movie ticket scalpers — a common practice in India.

However, on Dec. 20 the state’s Dept. of Cinematography reversed the decision.

Scalping tickets is particularly rampant in the first two weeks of release. In some cases, theater owners advertise sold-out houses, while scalpers sell tickets at a 100% markup outside the theaters and share profits with the theater owners.

The government hopes the new scheme will end this practice.

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