Can you carry food to the movies right now?
No. The Multiplex Association of India has clarified in a statement that it has not received any formal order, notification or communication in this regard from the government or any regulatory authority yet. Additionally, a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a Mumbai resident, Jainendra Baxi, against cinema chains restricting personal food and charging exorbitant rates for food sold at the theatre is also pending in the Bombay high court and is scheduled to be heard on 25 July.
Whom will this affect the most, and how?
Quite obviously, the big multiplex chains. For most of these companies spread across the country, the overall growth in revenue comes from addition of screens, increase in food and beverage consumption, as well as advertising. Shares of PVR and INOX slumped as much as 12.9% and 14.1%, respectively, after the Maharashtra announcement. PVR shares posted their biggest intraday fall since September 2016, hitting the lowest levels since 28 March. INOX shares fell to their lowest since September 2017.
How will exhibitors respond?
Multiplexes will either battle for a reduction in investment costs, such as mall rentals and realty prices, or raise ticket rates to counteract the loss in F&B sales.
What is the cinema chains’ argument?
Exhibitors have consistently emphasized the safety, security and infrastructure standards that they have to maintain as private business enterprises, and their accountability to stakeholders. Allowing personal food articles to theatres could post the danger of people carrying arms inside food containers, besides possibly hurting religious or dietary sentiments of those sitting around them, firms say.
The roots of the decision
The announcement by the minister of state for food and civil supplies, Ravindra Chavan, in response to a query by NCP legislator Dhananjay Munde came in the wake of the Jainendra Baxi PIL. And in June, a bench of justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai had directed the state government to examine the Bombay Police Act to see if it can, at least, be used to regulate prices of eatables sold inside theatres.