Indian multiplexes strike against producers

New releases delayed until action resolved

NEW DELHI -- The United Producers Forum, which represents top Bollywood banners and the Indian arms of Sony Pictures and Warner Bros., is on strike.

With talks between Indian producers and multiplex owners failing to reach terms by a Saturday deadline, the UPF said they will withhold new releases until further notice.

But while Sony and Warners are repped here by the UPF, the position of other Hollywood studios is still not clear.

"As an industry body, we are governed by U.S. antitrust laws and hence cannot be involved in this particular issue between Indian multiplexes and producers. However, individual members are free to take any stand they want to regarding this strike," the MPA's India director Rajeev Dalal said Monday.

Sony Pictures Releasing India managing director Kersy Daruwala declined comment when asked about the studio's position on the strike and how it might affect Sony's next major release, "Angels & Demons," slated for May 15. Similarly, Warner Bros. India did not respond to queries.

Meanwhile, Indian releases also will be on hold, as confirmed by top Bollywood banner UTV Motion Pictures CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur. "The strike is in effect until a resolution is reached. I don't know how long this will continue," he said.

"As of now, I don't know if there are any talks still going on with the producers. We will continue to play whatever films we have until the strike continues and even consider hosting other events such as plays or live telecasts of sporting events," Shringar Cinemas managing director Shravan Shroff said.

The strike comes at a time when multiplexes are battling a drop in attendance, with no major hits so far this year, and possibly more empty seats as the second season of Indian Premier League cricket action kicks off in mid-April in South Africa.
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