Mediocre films & weather give multiplexes a chill


MUMBAI: Multiplexes across India are witnessing a sluggish period thanks to mediocre film releases coupled with the cold weather that has clouded skies across India over the last month. Footfalls across most multiplexes have seen a drastic fall over the last one month.
From movie perspective, films like Halla Bol, My Name is Anthony Gonsalves, Bombay To Bangkok, Sunday, Rama Rama Kya Hai Drama, Super Star and Mithya have released over the last five weeks. In coming weeks Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer Jodhaa Akbar (15 Februay) is the only appeasing point for multiplexes. However, except PVR, others are yet to arrive at a decision for revenue terms for the same.
“Since the last four weeks our average footfalls have been only about 15-18 per cent. There are no major releases. It is difficult to survive like this,” says Cinemax vice president marketing and programming Devang Sampat. In a healthy scenario footfalls are approximately 70 per cent.
Across all-India PVR properties too, the average footfalls have been close to 20 per cent since the last two weeks. At Fun Cinemas the average footfalls in B class city multiplexes (18 – 20 per cent) are slightly better than in metros (15-18 per cent).  “Films like Sunday and Super Star are working well in our B class multiplexes,” says Fun Cinemas COO Vishal Kapoor.

While footfalls of above mentioned multiplex chains ranges from 15 – 20 per cent, that of Inox stands at 40-45 per cent, which is more than twice of other companies. “This is low for our standards and the primary reason for this is lack of content,” says Inox COO Alok Tandon.
Citing cold weather as another reason for low attendance, PVR films cell CEO Ashish Saksena says, “We are planning our programming in such a way that our properties shut down by 12.30 am and we are scheduling shorter duration English and Hindi movies for night shows.”

Despite poor turn up of audience no multiplex cancels shows. “In such cases our goodwill matter more than our financials,” says Tandon. “Even if one person comes, we have to run the show. We do not recover our costs, but we cannot let our customer go back. Sometimes morning shows have been cancelled during weekdays because audience hasn’t turned up, except in the case of Sunday or Halla Bol,” adds Fun’s Kapoor.
The average electricity cost for running a show at a multiplex is approximately Rs 700, which implies that seven tickets should be sold for the screening cost to breakeven at the least. (This excludes other variable and fixed cost such as staff cost, rent etc.)
In order to make up for this shortfall, multiplexes are switching to alternative content such as world cinema, screening previous years’ Oscar winning films and regional films. Moreover, comparision between multiplexes’ business this year with that of last year is not encouraging. The dip in box office has also affected the food and beverage sales and other ancillary activities of multiplexes.

Also pertinent to note here is that after Jodhaa Akbar’s release next week, there is yet again a lull period for about three weeks as far as quality content is concerned.

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