In the last 12 months, at least one theatre has shut shop every month. The recent to join the list is the 65-year old Kamadhenu theatre located in the heart of the city.
According to theatre owners, they have started selling or leasing out their premises since they are unable to compete with the new generation theatres and piracy.
Kamadhenu theatre was converted into a wedding hall last month. Senthi Nadar, its owner, said, Ticket charges in the range of Rs 15-20 earned us around Rs 10,000-15,000 a day. But now if we rent it out for wedding, the daily earning is around Rs 75,000 a day, excluding electricity and water bills.
Agrees a representative of Vijaya Mahal, which used to be Nagesh Theatre, located at T-Nagar, the shopping hub of Chennai.
Apart from wedding halls and exhibitors, realtors have also evinced interest in these old theatres. For instance, Anand Theatre, Wellington, Gaiety, Chitra and Uma are some of the theatres, which are in the process of getting converted into shopping malls.
Other factors forcing theatre owners to close down include competition from new generation theatres and piracy, added Naghu Chidambaram, partner, Kamla Theatre, one of the oldest theatres in Chennai, located at Kollywood's hub Kodambakkam in Chennai.
Theatre goers are very demanding nowadays and need a holistic experience. Theatres should change with the time and provide the facilities that the audience need, he added. Kamla Theatre is one of the few theatres still surviving. The theatre management is in the process of investing around Rs 25 crore (Rs 250 million) for upgrading its screens.