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HomeNewsSteep ticket prices limit reach of major films in small towns

Steep ticket prices limit reach of major films in small towns

NEW DELHI : While the Indian film industry is showing signs of recovery, high ticket prices in multiplexes, particularly for big-budget releases such as Jawan, are a point of concern given the possible impact on the movies’ earnings, especially in small towns of north India. Unlike south India, where ticket prices are capped, no such restriction exists in the Hindi-speaking belt. Though the premium audience in metros doesn’t mind the high prices, viewers in small towns often find it burdensome. Many multiplexes kept ticket rates for Shah Rukh Khan’s Jawan close to 400 in several small towns in the second week of release, with recliners costing upwards of 500. Experts believe this pricing strategy is limiting footfall despite the film’s overall box office success and is even more detrimental when applied to mid-budget films such as Dream Girl 2 that also tend to be priced above 350 in many cases.

“Multiplexes often treat each film in a similar fashion, going with the benchmarks they apply to premium, high-budget movies. It is important to understand that the audience needs to be given an adequate chance to come to the movies,” film distributor and exhibitor Sunny Khanna said. A lot of mid-budget titles lose opportunities in tier-II and tier-III towns, thanks to pricing in multiplexes, which tend to be the first choice for families, trade experts point out. So, the fact that the average ticket prices of top chains tend to hover around the 270-mark shows that cinema has been turned into a medium for the rich, alienating the common man who then takes to free content streaming on the mobile, independent film exhibitor Vishek Chauhan pointed out.

“High pricing may work for a film like Oppenheimer that is targeted at the elite. But 450 for a weekend show of Jawan in a small town isn’t viable because it is a film meant for mass audiences,” Chauhan said, and added that the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer could potentially have made 1,200-1,500 crore in India alone if the country wasn’t faced with such a paucity of screens coupled with unaffordable pricing.

To be sure, multiplexes point out there is nothing to suggest small-town audiences find their pricing unaffordable. “These films (such as Jawan) have turned out to be universal hits because people have watched them in large numbers and the pricing hasn’t impacted their decision. Viewers are also turning up for mid-budget movies now, be it OMG 2 or Zara Hatke Zara Bachke,” Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, executive director, PVR Inox Ltd, said.

Pricing for films, whether they are tentpole blockbusters or second-tier releases, is a multifaceted process that takes into account a range of factors, Devang Sampat, CEO, Cinepolis India, said. “It’s important to emphasize that our pricing strategy is not solely based on the film’s category or star cast; rather, it is a holistic approach designed to ensure the best value and experience for our patrons.”

“Secondly, we consider the economic demographics, preferences, and local market dynamics of tier-two and tier-three towns, ensuring that our pricing strikes a balance between affordability and sustainability. Additionally, the type of cinema format and services provided, such as advanced technology or gourmet dining, influence our pricing structure. Lastly, we factor in local competition to remain competitive while maintaining the quality and unique experience,” Sampat said.

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Updated: 27 Sep 2023, 12:03 AM IST

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