Movie-goers in Maharashtra will soon be able to take their own food into theatres


Starting from 1 August, movie-goers in Maharashtra will have the option to opt-out of buying overpriced items at snack counters in movie theatres.

The state government today (13 July) made the announcement that movie theatres will no longer be able to forbid ‘outside food’. It has also decided to meet with theatre owners and review and reduce the current prices of food served.

The Food Supplies Minister, Ravindra Chavan made this announcement at the Nagpur Assembly in response to a query raised by opposition leader Dhananjay Munde on whether outside food was permitted inside theatres.

The validity of the rule that prohibits outside food in theatres was earlier contested by Jainendra Baxi, who filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) at the Bombay High Court in January. During the hearing in April, Baxi’s counsel Aditya Pratap raised a particularly interesting point that Maharashtra Cinemas (Regulation) Rules do not permit hawking and selling of food inside theatres. A rule that is clearly being flouted by theatre owners.

The lawyer also pointed out that apart from the price, the rule prohibiting outside food affects senior citizens who have dietary restrictions and cannot stomach the "the junk food that the food stalls in the theatres sell."

And while the case is still to be settled, the High Court did acknowledge the problem and opined that prices should ideally be brought down and if at all theatres insist on banning food in halls, then food should not be sold and served by theatre vendors either. To this, the Maharashtra government had said that it will soon frame a policy to address this issue after taking into account the suggestions submitted by the petitioner and the Multiplex Owners’ Association (MOA).

Theatre owners, however, have unapologetically acknowledged that their entire business model is heavily reliant on the sale of snacks and beverages and not so much on the actual movie tickets which constitutes only 25% of their profits. In fact, Yogesh Raizada, corporate head, Wave Cinemas told the Times of India that if theatres were to allow outside food it would affect their margins “much more than any film flopping.”

Photo by: Christian Wiediger on Unsplash.
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