The Maharashtra government has taken a historic decision in the favour of all the movie lovers who watch movies in cinema theatres. In a statement given by Ravindra Chavan, the State Food Supplies Minister, all the multiplex owners will be asked to reduce the prices of eatables and water bottles sold inside the theatre premises. Also, the government will take action against theatre employees and owners who do not comply with the order. The order is speculated to come in wake of recent agitations and protest by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers in various movie theatres for abrupt pricing on food and beverages inside theatres. It also came after the leader of opposition in Legislative Council, Dhananjay Munde, raised the concern over the abrupt pricing by the multiplex owners on food and beverages.
The concern government officials have decided to sit with the multiplex owners and fix the prices of the foods and beverages available in the theatre premises. This decision is taken at a time when Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the matter is pending before the high court. Jainendra Baxi, a resident of Mumbai filed a PIL earlier in January this year claiming the theatre or multiplex administration have no legal provision to prohibit moviegoers from carrying their own food along, while going to watch the movie in their cinema halls.
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The movie lovers who prefer watching movies in Cinema Theatres had to spend an average of Rs. 300 in the theatre cafetaria which if bought at local shop would cost nothing more than 100 bucks. This was because the theatre administration had a policy of not allowing outside food inside the theatre premises. But now the scene will be contrary to this policy as the governmemt has intervened in this matter. The new rule of allowing outside food inside the theatre premises will be effective from August 1, 2018. From August 1, if any theatre stops you to carry outside food, you can, essentially, approach the consumer court and complain about it.
Challenges faced by General Public:
The high cost of the trip to cinema is the main reason people have stopped going to the cinema. More than 5000 people found the average moviegoer spend around Rs. 800 to 1000 on top of their ticket with most of the money going on food, drinks and parking.
People say instead of spending money on movie tickets, rather sit and relax at home and watch a movie on television or on a laptop while having snacks. Atleast they won’t spend extra Rs. 800 for just Rs. 150 to 200 a ticket. People also complained that apart from paying so much for food, depositing their tiffin boxes and water bottles is quite frustrating.
People also prefer not going to a cinema hall when they have food or fruits with them, when they are on a fast or they are not well. Also the most frequent question is, “What’s wrong with allowing a water bottle just because it wasn’t bought from inside the multiplex”
Is it legal for the movie-goers to carry outside food items inside the theatre? Let’s take a deeper look at this:
No, it is not illegal for the person bringing the outside food. However, it might legally inadvisable for the theater to allow you to do so. There are many locations that have very strict regulations about health inspection of food-selling businesses, and the presence of any outside food that has not been provided by the business can be considered as a contaminated food. Further, any damages or injuries to other patrons caused by the outside food (believe me, there are more possibilities here than you might imagine) could be considered the liability of the theater if they allow the patrons to bring it inside.
Also, theaters make the bulk of their profits not from selling movie tickets, but from selling food and beverages during the interval. Therefore, most theaters have rules against bringing in outside food. The theatre has the right to refuse service to anyone not complying with the rules of the establishment.
Can the police get involved over this situation? Conditionally, yes. If a person begins making a scene in the theatre about being asked to dispose of their food or leave the theatre, the theatre management has the right to call the police and ask the person to be escorted from the premises.
Moreover what the customers actually feel about this?
Illegal as in you will be arrested for it? No. Inappropriate and likely to get you ejected? yes. The reason, of course, is that theatres want you to buy their very expensive food. Most theatres do not make their money from ticket sales. They make money from selling the food and drinks. As a result, they don’t want you to bring your own food and drinks in. Further, it would be their right to order you to leave, without providing you with a refund for your tickets, if they catch you.
Ajanta News decided to reach out to some of the moviegoers and find out that they have to say about Government’s this decision. Here are reviews of some people who watch movies very often and let’s find their opinion about the new rule by the government:
1. Priyanka Gyanchandani
Not illegal, but certainly against the policies of most theatres. “And now that we think about it, the way in which movie theatres conduct their food business is actually a form of racketeering, which is very much a crime. This new rule that has come will change people’s perception and also will grow the sale of the movie tickets, and also now we can actually enjoy our food while watching movies and that too with no further cost,”
2. Archita Chauhan
“Today, a movie theatre is not a cinema that sells popcorn and candy, it’s a popcorn and candy stand that shows movies. There is no money to be made showing movies. There is a lot of money to be made selling a tub of popcorn worth Rs. 300. Now with this new rule we can actually bring food from our favourite café at MRP and enjoy it with a movie without any additional cost,”
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