Mumbai: Theatre chains in Maharashtra are still in the process of complying with a state government notice asking them to stop charging extra for tickets sold online, a move that may be challenged in court by the aggrieved cinema hall owners.

The notice issued last week also covers tickets booked through websites such as BookyMyShow.com.

The so-called convenience or Internet-handling charge depends on the price of the tickets. It’s usually 10 for a ticket costing up to 100, rising to 20 for a 100-200 ticket and so on.

The notification was received by theatre chains on Thursday. While Cinemax India Ltd and PVR Ltd, which owns the former, have already stopped charging the fee, others such as Big Cinemas, Inox Leisure Ltd and Fun Cinemas are still working toward implementing the resolution, executives said.

Bigtree Entertainment-owned BookMyShow.com has stopped levying the fee for Cinemax. The website sells tickets for more than 350 halls across 150 Indian cities. Platforms like it usually share 40-60% of their take with theatres based on sales volume, according to industry estimates.

BookMyShow founder and chief executive Ashish Hemrajani did not respond to calls and text messages.

For theatre chains in Maharashtra, online sales account for about 20% of ticket sales, according to multiplex executives.

“The online booking percentage is higher in the south—almost 40-50%" of the total, said a Cinemax executive, who didn’t want to be identified.

Maharashtra contributes roughly 15-20% of nationwide box office collections. The likely loss of revenue due to the state government notice could not be ascertained.

Cinema hall owners are displeased by the move.

“Theatres incur expenses in maintaining the website, IT facilities/backend and in developing and running mobile applications," said an executive from a leading multiplex, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The government should have considered the cost we bear."

A Big Cinemas executive, who didn’t want to be named, said, “The convenience charge per ticket is nominal. We may file a petition challenging the resolution."

Since 1 April, the Maharashtra government has allowed theatre owners to collect 9 as a service charge on all tickets for air-conditioned cinema halls, up from 6 earlier.

“On the back of this, the recent order prohibiting service providers and theatres from levying service charges on online booking of cinema tickets is absolutely justified and correct as on one hand the government has allowed cinemas to charge service chargers for air conditioned cinemas and the consumer should not be unduly burdened by a slew of service charges and that for something as simple as online booking of tickets," said Shravan Shroff, founder of Fame India, a theatre chain acquired and now run by Inox Leisure Ltd.

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