Several film exhibition business are reporting tough times, even while producers continue to make money. On the other hand, though India produces the maximum number of films in a year, there are not many cinema screens in India, compared to global standards.
Here are some top trends from Film Exhibition Business in India.
- Number of screens in India is woefully low.
Industry experts say efforts should be made to open new screens across India, especially in the remote areas and smaller cities. Also, theatres with single screens should be given more incentives to convert into multi-screen complexes.
“China has around 45,000 screens, whereas India has around 8,000 screens for all languages. Due to low number of theatres in India, the cinema industry faces great difficulty in simultaneously releasing two big- budget films on the same day. It also affects box-office collections,” said Aamir Khan.
- While Box office records in India continue to be broken (one of the reasons for that is the increased number of screens in India), Net box office collections dropped by 15% in 2016, according to trade magazine Complete Cinema.
- “The overall numbers, purely in terms of Bollywood, may be on the lower side but Hollywood and regional cinema have helped some recovery,” said Rajendar Singh, vice-president, programming and distribution, INOX Leisure Ltd. “It’s not much of a concern if other avenues provide some margin.”
- Multiplex chains, on the other hand, have reported increase in revenue year-on-year. “Big films not working or small films giving results beyond their perceived size are part of our business,” said CEO of PVR Pictures.
- Theatre chains are seeing overall growth in revenue due to addition of screens, increase in food and beverage (F&B). Even INOX has reported increased revenues from F&B.
- Theatre chains are also seeing increase in advertising income. Advertising has emerged as a priority for theatres; many theatres now show nearly 15 minutes of ads per movie show. Multiplexes are also setting individual ad revenue targets for each employee.
- Producers and studios have various other options to earn revenue – music, satellite rights, overseas sales, digital sales. However, the exhibition business is dependent entirely on the success (or the lack of it) of films at the box office. Big films may flop at the box-office but exhibitors still have to shell out what the distributors demand.
- Many exhibitors say ticket prices are ‘unreasonable’ in India. In an already under-screened market like India, the common man can hardly afford to go to the theatre today.
“Multiplexes in India need to look at their price points,” says founder of film production, distribution and marketing company. “A family of four will need at least Rs1,500-2,000 to be able to watch a film, that’s like 10-15% of the monthly salary for many. Ticket rates are killing movie watching habits in a country that has no other entertainment options.”
- In the long run, additional income of theatre owners could also be affected. “When people are not coming to theatres, why would anyone pay for advertising? Less footfalls means advertisers will shy away.”
- Because of threat from piracy, the window between theatrical and satellite TV release of films has shrunk to less than three months, further eating into the business – especially of small, content-driven films.
- Then there’s the threat posed by digital entertainment options, that may not have taken over the theatrical business entirely, but would certainly impact the business of a film.
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