IPL in 3D at multiplexes garner better response than previous matches

MUMBAI: The multiplex chains were keeping their fingers crossed for the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) last four matches being screened in 3D after a dry spell from the movie business. While the response to the first semi-final played between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore was not in tandem with the expectations, nevertheless, the occupancy level was far better than the previous matches that have been screened.

While it was still the first of the four matches that was screened today in 3D, plexes are hopeful that by the finals on Sunday, the crowds will start lining up. The average occupancy at theaters for the match between MI and RCB today was 35 – 45 per cent.

A major factor playing spoilsport to the 3D screening response could also be the ticket prices. The ticket price for the 3D screening ranges from Rs 500 – Rs 1200 across various multiplex chains, which is staggeringly higher than what one would normally shell out. Moreover, exhibitors are also contemplating hiking up the ticket price for the final match, which will be played on Sunday.

Speaking to Businessofcinema.com, Fun Cinemas COO Vishal Kapur said, “The 3D IPL match is definitely doing better than the 2D. Even in the cricket ground, commentators like Harsha Bhogle mentioned the experience of watching the match on 3D. This might help in a way to attract the audience because people are still not used to the idea. The response has been great even though the occupancy is not as expected. However I am sure it will pick up during the final match. The bulk bookings too will happen closer to the finals.”

Cinemax senior vice president Devang Sampat added, “Expectations are high but apart from the corporate bookings, the retail counter has not been very encouraging. However, the experience of watching the match on 3D is superb. I feel that if Mumbai Indian goes to the finals then we can expect 100% occupancy.”

Cinemax is expecting revenues of approximately Rs 5 lakhs per match. Sampat informs, “We are not expecting big revenues, it could be approximately around Rs 50 to 60 lakh per chain.”

All said and done, the audience is still skeptical about leaving the comfort of their homes or watching the match at restaurants, pubs and clubs than coming to the theater to watch the matches even though the multiplexes are trying their best to attract the audience with freebies. Some multiplexes are even handing out whistles and flags to their patrons to give it a stadium like feel while some have DJs inside the theaters.

Some chains are serving beer and liquor to patrons, which is limited to corporate bookings. In spite of all the additional attraction, the numbers remain average. Even advance bookings have not been as great as expected.

Whether the final match on Sunday will get the occupancy rate increasing remains to be seen. For the sheer experience of this novel concept, one would expect a lot more curious cats to go a sniffing at the theatres.