Although the Indian Premier League’s Season Three didn’t get a warm welcome at the multiplexes, it might actually end with a bang. The final match of the tournament, that ends on April 25, will be screened live in 3D and that might close the series on a great note in the ’plexes, enthuse their countrywide head honchos.
The occupancy was a meagre12 per cent in the opening weekend.. It rose to approximately 50 per cent in the weekend that just passed by. Riding on 3D, the first semi-final yesterday evening between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore had 50 per cent occupancy, despite it being a weekday.
Although the advance booking wasn’t great, Devang Sampat, Vice President Cinemax, says that the corporate booking has been encouraging in the metros. “Retail booking is picking up even in B and C centers. Watching the match on 3D is a novel idea and is generating positive buzz,” he adds, stating that he’s certain that the response will be better for the second semi-final on Thursday and the final on Sunday.
“Once people experience watching a match in 3D, bookings will improve,” he enthuses, though the tickets are priced between Rs 700 and Rs 1200. Additionally, the ambience in the auditorium, replete with cheerleaders at all the multiplexes, ensures a better match-viewing experience.
However, the 3D effect has added to the money that the multiplexes have coughed up to telecast the last three big matches. Still, Aashish Saxena, COO, Big Cinemas, plans to go that extra mile. “The response is much better than our expectations, more so because the semi-finals are scheduled on a weekday.
Though we spent extra, 70-80 per cent occupancy is making up for it. I’m sure we’ll have full houses for the finals on Sunday,” he asserts.Saxena informs that bulk bookings have helped and the retail booking is also increasing consistently. Tickets at his chain of multiplexes range from Rs 600 to Rs 1000, depending on the location of the multiplex.
“We’ve also added special items on the menu because food plays an important role in enhancing the audience’s experience in watching the matches,” he says. Depending on the locations and licenses, Big Cinemas also plan to serve alcohol. Considering Avatar did better in 3D than in 2D, Amitabh Vardhan, CEO, PVR Cinemas, stresses that the experience in a multiplex for Rs 500 to Rs 1000 is better than watching a match at the stadium.
“It’s too crowded there, whereas here, you sit and enjoy every moment. The players will be standing close to you, but you can’t see them clearly in a stadium. Seventy per cent of our screens across the country will be screening the matches in 3D and we’re sure of closing the booking for the finals by Friday,” he informs.
Controversy, no problem
The ongoing controversy surrounding the IPL hasn’t affected the audience’s attraction towards the 3D. “It’s complete entertainment. The public isn’t bogged down by the controversies,” states Sampat. Saxena echoes his thought.At the end of its run, the IPL hasn’t become a loss proposition for multiplexes.Vardhan says that it was an experiment that has turned into a viable business option: “All the multiplexes attempted various initiatives. I think everyone has had their share of the pie.”