From August 1, Maharashtra’s cinemas have to let film-goers bring their own food

Everyone who has resented having to shell out a small fortune for an evening at the multiplex can finally expect relief — in Maharashtra, to start with. The Maharashtra Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ravindra Chavan on Friday announced that food items from outside will be allowed in multiplexes from August 1.

The announcement was made in the Legislative Council when Opposition members drew the government’s attention to ‘exorbitant prices’ charged by multiplexes for food and beverages. The Leader of the Opposition and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Dhananjay Munde wanted the government to stop the “loot.” “The common people are being openly plundered by the sale of food, beverages, and water at high rates. If you look at the rates, they sell popcorn worth ₹10 for ₹80. A water bottle which costs around ₹15 is sold for ₹50 to ₹80. The rates are much lower outside but the multiplexes have prohibited outside food. As a result, people get movie tickets for ₹200 but they have to spend a thousand rupees for snacks,” Mr. Munde said.

No disagreement

Mr. Chavan readily agreed. “Whatever the Leader of the Opposition is saying is true,” he said. “As per the rules of the year 1966, there is no prohibition on taking food items into multiplexes. They (authorities) don’t have any right to stop the public from doing so. Multiplex owners prohibit outside food citing security. But we have asked them to allow outside food. From August 1, there won’t be multiple prices for the same item.”

Share prices of multiplex operators took an immediate hit. While PVR shares closed 13% down at ₹1,214.20, INOX Leisure closed 5.4% lower at ₹238.70. Eros International, dropped by 3.4% to ₹114.45. Analysts said the “populist move” could spill over to other States.

“I expect multiplexes to go to court,” said Abneesh Roy, analyst with Edelweiss Securities. “They could increase ticket prices to lower the impact.” F&B revenues contribute 26-27% of multiplexes’ gross revenues. In April the Bombay High Court had observed that the cost of food and water in multiplexes was exorbitant.

(Inputs from

Manojit Saha)

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