Around 1,000 cinema houses in Tamil Nadu have cancelled screenings against the imposition of 30 per cent local body tax apart from additional tariffs under the new GST regime.
"Though the Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors Association had decided on Friday to cancel shows from July 3, many theatres shut down yesterday itself," president of the association, Abirami Ramanathan said, adding about 1,000 cinema halls state-wide are shut now.
Speaking to reporters in Chennai, Ramanathan, who is also chief of the Tamil Film Chamber of Commerce, said theatres were shut due to "our inability to pay (taxes) and our move is not against the government."
"The local body tax of 30 per cent is in addition to the GST tax rate of 28 per cent (for tickets over Rs 100) and 18 per cent (for tickets priced less than Rs 100)," he told PTI.
To a question, he said an additional levy of about eight per cent under GST over 30 per cent local body tax had pushed the total taxes to over 60 per cent.
He urged the government to immediately scrap the local body tax of 30 per cent, saying such a move would automatically take away the additional levy of eight per cent under GST.
"If we screen movies, we have to pay local body taxes immediately as it came into force from yesterday. We are closing since there is no other way out," he said.
Ramanathan claimed that only in India do cinema theatres have no right to fix ticket prices.
"We cannot increase prices for big ticket movies," he said, adding they could not lower it for small budget movies either.
"We have requested the government to fix a threshold within which we should be allowed to either increase or cut down ticket prices as per the need," he said.
He added about 10 lakh persons were dependent on the film industry to eke out a living.
Filmmaker R Kannan told PTI: "I have borrowed money and produced 'Ivan Thanthiran'. How am I going to repay if theatres are closed? This is like killing a newborn. My film has just released and this move will kill my film. I really don't know what I should do now."
People also expressed their disappointment over the government's move.