Cue the soundtrack of "2001: A Space Odyssey"; the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is finally upon us and movie fans at cinemas got to experience it for the very first time yesterday, on 1 April 2015.
Cinema Online visited several cinemas in the Klang Valley area to observe if there was any noticeable change in audience attendance.
"Fast and Furious 7", the first big movie to come with the GST charges was released yesterday for sneak preview screenings for which cinema staff reported a decent audience attendance with tickets for the movie selling fast despite the initial GST scare.
In case you've been living in Narnia, Hogwarts or Middle Earth, let us bring you back to reality (No, not The Matrix!).
The GST is set at a fixed rate of 6% and has been officially implemented starting from 1 April 2015 onwards.
The tax replaces the previous Sales and Service Tax (SST) which was absorbed in the ticket pricing and it is chargeable along with the existing 25% Entertainments Duty.
So how do cinemagoers feel about the GST charges and what measures have the cinema industry taken up in implementing it?
All cinemas in the nation have now implemented the 6% GST to replace the previous SST across all their goods and services such as movie tickets, movie vouchers, concession F&B, hall rental and specialty dining. So expect to see a GST charge stated in all of your receipts derived from your cinema related transactions.
Take note the 6% GST is chargeable only over the nett pricing of the ticket and the nett price other items/purchases from the cinema.
The GST charge does not include other tax or service charges which remain as its own separate chargeable over the nett pricing of tickets and items purchased. The existing Entertainments Duty of 25% is only chargeable for the nett pricing of movie tickets and not for concession items and dining.
Golden Screen Cinemas have adopted a 'rounding off' system where movie ticket prices are balanced between the nett ticket price and GST charge to provide customers with a final rounded off ticket price. With the implementation, there is a slight increase in ticketing pricing observed that start from RM0.50 onwards depending on the type of movie ticket (standard, couple seats) or type of movie format (2D, 3D, D-Box, Atmos and etc) picked by the cinemagoer.
TGV Cinemas takes a different approach as it states there is no additional 6% GST charged on current ticket prices as it is already absorbed by their ticketing prices. The nett price of their tickets have been adjusted (over the years as noted by their Facebook users) so that now the GST and Entertainments Duty charge of 6% and 25%, respectively, will still give cinemagoers the same ticketing prices as charged by TGV Cinemas before this.
Other cinemas in the country have also not made any drastic increase to their ticketing prices as well and have implemented the GST across all their offerings with an increase of pricing from RM0.50 onwards due to the GST charge.
With tickets for anticipated movies selling well, assuming that "Fast and Furious 7" has set a precedence of things to come, it is unlikely that the local movie-going habits will see drastic changes. However based on several cinemagoers that we've interviewed, a slight reduction of frequency of attendance is expected this year among the general public.
Student, Careen Low, 21 who was one of the first in line to buy tickets for the "Fast and Furious 7" sneak preview screening, says that although she will try, it will be hard to cut back on watching lesser movies this year especially since there will be so many big movies slated to come.
"The increase of prices with GST is certainly a factor of why I would be more selective in watching movies at the cinema this year. I will only go for the big movies I have been eagerly waiting for and will try to get the DVDs instead for the smaller titles."
Rajiv a 39-year-old businessman said that he will take some time in getting used to the increased prices concerning his cinema habits, but hopes that cinemas will stand along cinemagoers in adjusting their prices to be reasonable.
"I hope that cinemas will consider having more promotions or value packages for patrons like me who really enjoy going to the cinema often. If prices are going to increase more in the future, I would have to consider my current cinema attendance which I hope to maintain, to be honest."
Shop owner, Hamdi, 35 said that despite the increase, the initial GST scare will soon wear off and people will resume their usual habits once the waters have calmed.
"If the extra charges from going to the cinema in a year span are added up, it will definitely be a lot of money spent. But if people can afford to go to the cinemas, then paying a few cents or ringgit won't really affect the moviegoer who will still want to watch their favourite movie on the big screen."