Exhibs plan to strike

Action may commence during peak summer season

NEW DELHI — More than 1,000 movie theater owners in India’s western state of Maharashtra, home of the Bollywood film industry, are going on strike starting May 16 to protest the high entertainment tax on cinema tickets, steep electricity costs and various municipal taxes.

The strike has been called by the Mumbai Theater Owners Assn., a spokesman said Wednesday.

“The entertainment tax in Maharashtra is 60%, while it is 25%-30% in almost all other states in the country,” said Manoj Desai, executive director of Bombay’s popular Maratha Mandir theater and Gaiety-Galaxy-Gemini multiplex. “We want it cut to 30%.

“Such a steep tax at a time when business is at its worst is really killing. It is also unfair, as the government has cut the entertainment tax to 25% on live entertainment shows.”

The strike comes during the peak summer season, with the months of May and June generating about 30% of the full year’s business turnover.

Bollywood already is reeling from a string of bad seasons, with losses last year estimated at around 2.9 billion rupees ($58 million), and a wrangle with producers and distribbers that has nixed most new releases for a month.

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