Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - Hindustan Times (Jaipur) - City
100% OCCUPANCY IN THEATRES: A DISTANT DREAM?
TBut how are theatres coping with the 50% cap so far? Do they see it becoming 100% anytime soon? Rajender Jyala, INOX Leisure, says, “We are very hopeful. Fortunately, Covid cases are coming down. All other industries have opened up. It all depends on the content. Unfortunately, no big Bollywood films are coming. But whether it was Tenet or Wonder Woman, we had houseful shows at 50%. In regional films, two-three Tamil films did well. So was the case with a Bangla film. Pongal is the biggest festival in the south, like Diwali in north India. Master, starring Vijay is one of the biggest releases. So (cinema hall audience) capacity makes a difference to a big-budget film like that.” From an exhibitor’s point of view, this reluctance towards 100% occupancy is disheartening. Akshaye Rathi says these are grave times for the movie exhibition business. “Big-ticket anticipated films are not releasing, and they won’t until occupancy increases. It’s a chicken-and-egg heatres are still struggling to get back on their feet across India. Though 50% occupancy is allowed, no film has been able to lure the audiences enough to forget Covid-19 and visit a movie hall. Tamil Nadu recently tried raising the occupancy to 100, only for the Centre to revoke the order and ask it to revert to the original cap. Does this move dishearten the trade? Trade analyst Taran Adarsh feels even if the occupancy is raised to 75%, it will be great. “On weekends, on an average we have 80% occupancy across India for all big films which worked at the box office. In today’s time, what can happen is people will go the week after release, seeing houseful signs. It all depends on big films and when they come, like ’83, Sooryavanshi, Bell Bottom. Hopefully happy days should be back again,” he says. situation. The government has done absolutely nothing to help this sector till now. Many parts of the world have been opened for half a year now, and nowhere has it been reported that there was a spread from cinema halls. Cinemas are very controlled environments. When public transport, malls everything has opened to normal capacity, I don’t know why cinemas are being singled out,” rues Rathi. However, according to trade expert Atul Mohan, 50% occupancy doesn’t matter on weekdays because the footfalls in theatres is anyway lower than it is on weekends. He explains, “The government knows better what is good for whom but I think weekends are the main earning for the industry. The maximum revenue is generated then, because occupancy goes up to 80% for a good film. Even an average film enjoys 50% occupancy on a weekend. On a weekday, in any multiplex not more than 5-10% people come. Therefore 50% occupancy doesn’t affect much then.” Rishabh Suri