The shutdown fear looming over Regal Cinema in Connaught Place and Vishal Cineplex in Rajouri Garden finds an echo at about 30 other single-screen theatres in the Capital that are struggling to make ends meet.
Facing competition from multiplexes, the single-screen cinema halls in the Capital have been finding it increasingly difficult to squeeze out profits. The slowdown in business after demonetization might just be the final nail for the cinema halls that are already weighed down by high entertainment tax and piracy.
GS Rathor, the manager of Shiela Cinema in Paharganj, said that the despite the fact that the cinema hall is at a prime location, it is finding it hard to make profits. “A popular hall among tourists till a decade ago, now it is mostly rickshaw pullers and labourers who come here. If they do not have cash in hand and they do not go online to book tickets, watching movies will definitely not be a priority.” He says that besides demonetisation, problems like traffic congestion the area and competition from multiplexes has contributed to their decline.
Till the 1970s, Delhi had over 65 single-screen theatres. The numbers have shrunk drastically and around 25 cinema halls have shut shop. Around 20 single-screen theatres have shut in the past two years. The list includes cinema halls such as Sudarshan, Kamal, Savitri, Eros, Chanderlok, Archana, Ajanta, Rachna, Jagat, Kumar, Jubilee, Majestic, Minerva, Palace, Robin, Kalyan and Laxmi.
- During 1950s, 60s and 70s a movie would run for around 6 months in Regal Cinema
- Not more than three movies were shown in a year
- Earlier, police had to be deployed to manage the crowd
- Most movies of Rajshri Productions were screened here
- The last movie in which Regal made profit was Sultan
- Salman, Aamir and Shahrukh’s movies earned maximum profits, but the theatre can’t run on just their movies
- Other cinema halls in Connaught Place like Odeon has been sold to a multiplex chain and upgraded as multi-screen theatre
- Plaza and Rivoli too have been bought by PVR and are now marketed as ‘heritage’ theatres
- The number of visitors to singlescreen cinemas has been dwindling ever since Delhi’s first multiplex, now called PVR Priya, opened in Vasant Vihar in 1997
- The mushrooming of multiplexes has forced the smaller singlescreen theatres to shut down
- The multiplexes run more shows at frequent intervals and cater to an elite crowd
- Till the 1970s, Delhi had more than 65 single-screen theatres.
- The numbers have shrunk drastically and around 25 halls have been closed, with 20 closing down in the past two years
Hans Cinema in Azadpur has cancelled its night shows. The manager Praveen Vohra said people hardly come here for night shows anymore. “Our audience is mostly from the lower strata of the society and these people do not have cash. As a result we have no other option.
Hans mostly runs Bhojpuri movies and is presently showing movie Nagin. He added that condition is such that they may have to close any time. The hall which has 900 seats has not been getting even 50 viewers in day shows since the past one month. “Demonetisation has hit us as people who come to our halls do not use Internet to book tickets. We do not have card facility for the same reason,” he said. “During the night shows of Befikre in the past month there were days when we ran with less than 10 people in the hall. Even the bill of an air conditioner comes to more,” he added.
The number of visitors to single screen cinemas has been dwindling ever since Delhi’s first multiplex, now called PVR Priya, opened in Saket in 1997.
The mushrooming of multiplexes has forced the smaller single-screen theatres to shut down as they have more shows at frequent intervals, caters to an elite crowd and has better marketing tools.