Running on empty: Demonetisation hits theatres hard, footfalls drop by 75%
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to demonetisation Rs 100 and Rs 500 notes has hit the entertainment industry hard as trade analysts and film distributors claim that ticket sales are down by 75 %.bollywood Updated: Nov 14, 2016 18:52 IST
Would you spend a few hundred rupees on watching a movie in the nearby multiplex? Probably not. Given the grim state of affairs over the last few days following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of demonetisation, theatres across town are empty.
Unless the cash flow in the country improves, experts estimate that the entertainment industry will have to bear the brunt of demonetisation, according to which Rs 500 and 1000 notes will no longer be legal tenders. Single screen owners don’t want to come on record for the fear of losing more money, and are trying to minimise their losses by trying to come up with strategies to attract cinemagoers. “Log nahi aa rahe lekin agar hum yeh bolenge toh business aur kharaab hoga (If we say that people aren’t coming to our theatre, it’ll affect our business even more,” said the manager of a single screen theatre.
The major Bollywood films running in theatres are Rock On 2 , Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Shivaay. “Entertainment is last priority of people who would want to use their cash to buy basic necessities. Obviously, they won’t buy film tickets. And online booking is only popular in big cities like Delhi or Mumbai. People in smaller towns still buy their ticket at counters. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that there is a fall of 35% in ticket sales across the country,” says trade analyst Komal Nahta.
Even films that have already received bad reviews, such as Farhan Akhtar’s Rock On 2, are blaming demonetisation for their losses. “Rock On 2 might be a bad film, but that doesn’t justify the really poor business it has done. It should have done at least Rs 4-5 crore, but it didn’t even manage that, and first day collections were only Rs 2 crore. It is happening because of demonetisation,” says Nahta.
Ritesh Sidhwani, the film’s producer, had said that he would have pushed the film’s release had they known of this. “People are queueing up outside banks, and even if they have managed to get the new Rs 2000 note, they are not able to get change for it. This is affecting the overall collections of the film. If we had had any clue about the decision, we would have definitely pushed the release date,” he had said.
Film distributors are equally grim. “It has hit the entertainment industry really bad. There is almost a 75% drop in footfall across theatres because people don’t have the currency. I don’t see things improving, and I think Aamir’s Dangal will be affected by it as well,” says Sanjay Ghai, a Delhi-based film distributor.