Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 13:14 UK

Bollywood producers set to strike

By Zubair Ahmed
BBC News, Mumbai

File photo of an Indian multiplex cinema
Multi-screen cinemas have boomed in Indian cities

Bollywood film producers are to go on strike after failing to settle differences with multi-screen cinemas over revenue sharing.

The protest means no new films will be released in popular multiplex cinemas.

Producers are demanding a 50% share in the revenues generated by the cinemas. Owners say the share should be lower if a film performs poorly.

India's film industry, the world's largest, has already been badly affected by the global economic crisis.

The indefinite strike is expected to begin on Saturday.

Actor-producer Vinay Pathak said many high-budget films have been put on hold and all parties stood to lose from the dispute.

"This problem can only be resolved if both parties find a solution that will be beneficial for producers, distributors and multiplexes, and hence for the audience," he said.

Old films

Mukesh Bhutt, a well-known Bollywood producer, told the BBC that multiplexes have grouped together and are holding the producers, who have never before united on the issue, to ransom.

But multi-screen cinema owners say producers should get less than 50% of revenues if a film does badly at the box office.

"If a movie does well, producers should get more money," said Alok Tandon, the Inox multi-screen cinema chain's chief operating officer. "If a movie doesn't do well they shouldn't."

"Everybody should be on the same platform."

Multilplexes have decided to show old films until the dispute is resolved.

The cinemas have boomed in India, especially in the cities, accounting for nearly 70% of the $2bn (1.4bn)-a-year Hindi film industry.

Many producers now make films for release only at multiplex cinemas.

Cinema-goers outside one swanky multi-screen cinema complex in Mumbai said they hoped the strike would end soon.

"If the strike is on for a longer time we will watch the IPL [Indian Premier League cricket] at home or we will watch movies at single screen cinemas," said one.

Bollywood has been badly hit by the global economic slowdown and the latest dispute will heap more misery on the industry.

It is already fearing a big drop in its audiences when the IPL cricket bonanza starts in South Africa in mid April.

The Indian film industry is the world's largest, churning out more than 900 films every year.

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