Multiplexes may close few screens to cut operational costs

MUMBAI: Soon enough, the national multiplex chains may be left with no option but to keep one or may be even two screens closed in properties, which have six or more screens, in order to curb operational cost. And this, in times when there will be very little fresh content to play week-on-week, due to the postponement of new Hindi film releases.

While nothing is certain currently and a clearer picture will be arrived at only after a few days, the multiplexes are definitely considering this as an option. This will help multiplexes save costs very minimally by approximately Rs 4000 – Rs 5000 per screen for a day.

When contacted by Businessofcinema.com, the multiplex officials refused to comment on the matter. However a source says, “The multiplexes will not save a huge amount of money by keeping one or two screens closed, but it also doesn’t make sense for them to keep screens operational despite less content.”

Further, the multiplexes have already reduced daily hours of labor at cinemas from 14- 15 hours previously to 12 hours now. Another source adds, “The multiplexes now start at around 11 am and try to wind up by 11 pm – midnight, as opposed to starting at 9 am and closing after 1 am previously. This helps them keep operational costs under check.”

While these cost saving measures have been taken in West, North and East India cinemas, things are hunky-dory for South India as there is no shortage of content due to heavy demand of regional films.

However, the other cinemas are trying to cope with content shortage by programming alternative content, which may suffice for a few days or weeks. While some cinemas are planning to release movies of independent producers (who are not with the United Producers and Distributors Forum) or movie festivals, some others are planning to stage theatre shows, live sports or re-release of old movies. World Cinema is also being screened in select theatres.

The source further adds, “Some cinemas, which were designated for renovation will now undergo the same. Earlier the repair work was not possible as some or the other movie kept playing, but now it can be carried out easily.”

Now it remains to be seen how things shape up for both multiplexes and distributors in days to come.

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