The Tamil film industry is worth over Rs 2,000 crore but surprisingly, 75 per cent of business is done manually and hence, there exists a continuous dispute on box office collections reported by trade analysts based on numbers indicated from producers.
Why is computerisation required and how will it benefit the industry and its stakeholders?
A computerised ticket process, which is linked to a centralised ticketing server, will stop this practice and single screens shall have no scope to overcharge the audience. This way, the audiences across Tamil Nadu would get tickets at prices fixed by the government and not that fixed by the distributor or theatre owner for each film.
Producers and trade: Producers often get blamed by the audience for higher ticket charges by theatres though they are not involved in it. Computerised ticketing will ensure producers get actual ticket sales reports from theatres immediately after closure of sales. As almost 75 per cent of theatres sell tickets manually, they report daily ticket sales manually, which, in turn, cannot be verified by producers in any way. Producers need to know the real daily collection report (DCR) without the need to verify it using collection agents who check the actual audience number versus DCRs. A computerised box office system will ensure trust in the billing for producers and they need not keep monitoring it. With computerised billing across the State and an integrated billing software connecting all theatres, one can tabulate the screen-wise, show-wise and day-wise collections, the gross ticket collections, GST and local taxes collected, theatre maintenance collected and net ticket collection for each film. From this data, based on agreed exhibitor share and distributor commission, a producer can easily arrive at the net share he is entitled to at the individual theatre level, and the territory and State levels. The whole process would become transparent and easy to operate and understand the theatrical share for each film. The distributors and theatre owners would also get access to this report, which will simply help them report their share details each day than collating data and sending it next day to the producers.
Government: The biggest beneficiary after the audience shall be the government, which is not getting the actual GST or local tax collected as with the current manual billing system, there is so much under-reporting of collection figures happening from theatres and correspondingly, by distributors. That can be fixed with computerised ticketing. There will be no revenue leakage of taxes and what has been collected from the audience would be paid to the government based on the integrated system generated data.
Computerised ticketing is the need of the hour and not online ticketing, as there cannot be any compulsion on the audience to buy their ticket online by paying additional charges for it. The audience can personally buy them at theatres or via online, but tickets should be issued through a computerised ticketing process and not the current method of manual issuance. Computerised ticketing will be a game changer, bringing in huge transparency in the film industry. The inflated box office reports and consequent high salaries charged by artistes and technicians would also reduce once the system reveals real collection data.
—G Dhananjayan is a film producer, distributor and founder-director of BOFTA Film Institute