The Indian film industry has suffered a spate of flops so far this year. The resultant poor box office collections have affected multiplexes as well. Trade sources estimate that from January to June 2008, of the 116 films that were released, only a few like Race and Jannat sent the cash registers ringing, while Krazzy 4 and Sarkar Raaj were declared as average grossers.
According to a trade analyst, another reason for the poor showing up of audiences at the mulitplexes was the high ticket prices at multiplexes. “The first half of the year saw many small budget films. Though these were rich in content and had a new star cast, they failed to draw audiences. Primarily, because these films were not well publicised and also the audiences did not feel the need to spend whopping sums to watch them at multiplexes,” he says. Bollywood has realised that it is a very discerning audience that they are catering to. So who is the real multiplex goer? Which is the target group that multiplexes largely count on? What factors draw audiences to multiplexes?
Joydeep Ghosh Roy, General Manager, marketing and sales, PVR Cinemas, feels it is the young audience between the age group of 15 to 35 years that multiplexes cater to. “These are the people with bulging pockets and high disposable incomes who don’t mind spending money at multiplexes.” For instance, a multiplex goer at Mumbai will spend on an average Rs 275, while those in smaller towns like Aurangabad, will spend Rs 150, informs Roy. Yet, he says, “We cannot afford to be choosy towards a particular target audience as the age group of movie goers varies as per the genre of a film.”
Some multiplexes feel that tickets are not the ‘deciding factor’ for determining footfalls. Explains Devang Sampat, Senior Vice President, marketing and programming, Cinemax India, “The content of a film is the most important factor that attracts audiences to theatres, which has been missing this year.” When does the audience trickle in to watch films and when do they rush towards multiplex screens? Multiplexes have observed that weekends are the busiest. The ticket prices differ for the weekdays and weekends show though. They are relatively higher during the weekends. Ideally in the metro tier I and tier II cities, a Monday evening show would cost around Rs 240 to Rs 280 while a weekend (Saturday-Sunday) show would be higher at around Rs 320. The ticket pricing structure at various multiplexes differs based on location, timings and the genre of the film. Tickets are priced strategically to suit the income groups that live in the particular catchment area that a multiplex is located in. Ticket prices differ on a weekday depending on the time slabs. For instance, the morning show (9 am slot) has students patronising it because ‘it is priced anywhere between Rs 50 and Rs 90’, says Roy of PVR. The afternoon shows for the same film would be priced at Rs 240 to Rs 280. Utpal Acharya, Vice President — programming and distribution, Inox Leisure Ltd says, “It makes sense to lower the ticket rates for morning shows as these shows are for college students.”
The location of a multiplex also affects its ticket prices. According to an Adlabs spokesperson, “Our pricing strategy is always led by an in-depth study of the catchments that we operate in and our ticket rates vary from Rs 20 (tier II cities) to Rs 500 (Ebony Lounge at Metro Adlabs).” Ticket pricing is more region specific rather than cinema specific. “The vitality of a brand, film-based merchandising, contests and value to the film patrons help in increasing footfalls by almost 20% to 25%”, explains Roy. Films like Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Phoonk and Rock On were based on a strong marketing campaigns which proved beneficial in creating an initial buzz around these films. Jaane Tu had Aamir Khan, its producer, take his protege Imran Khan to TV programmes and also to smaller cities like Pune and Nagpur, thus creating mass awareness.
“Phoonk was a classic example where the producers of the film devised various contests that gave an initial thrust to the film and drew audiences to multiplexes as well,” says Sampat. The Rs 5 lakh challenge thrown to the ‘dare devil’ who was willing to watch the horror film by himself became a big talking point. Akshay Kumar starrer Singh is Kinng too had a strong publicity campaign during its release. The producers ran a ‘Main bhi Kinng’ contest held across some PVR multiplexes, wherein Akshay Kumar doled out prizes to the winners. Other marketing strategies like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Rose Day celebrations at multiplexes and creating previews for certain films also attract audiences to multiplexes.
Are marketing gimmicks the way out to salvage audience interest in a film? However, the year is not over yet. “Not all is lost”, avers Sampat, Cinemax. “There are some big blockbusters that will be released towards the end of this year. With films like the Aamir Khan starrer Ghajini, and Yash Raj’s Shah Rukh Khan starrer, Rab ne Bana di Jodi due for release during the last quarter of this year, the audience may rush in.” Perhaps
6 months ago