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This hike is not applicable to every film. The only films which warranted a price hike before Chennai Express this year were Race 2 and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
— Sanjay Dalia, President Cinemax India Ltd
Hiking the price of cinema tickets for high profile films or for those releasing during festival seasons is not exactly new, but the frequency with which it is done has gone up recently.
Trade analyst Amod Mehra recalls the release of film-maker Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 1942 A Love Story, starring Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Manisha Koirala, in 1994. “I remember Mumbai’s Metro cinema upping their balcony ticket from Rs.50-75 for the film. But when the multiplex culture took off, Ghajini hiked its ticket price and restarted the trend,” he says.
Sanjay Dalia, President Cinemax India Ltd, also recalls Mumbai’s Satyam theatre hiking their prices in 1993 with the Sanjay Dutt-Madhuri Dixit starrer Khalnayak and Shah Rukh Khan’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge in 1995. “Earlier, it was a trend to hike the price of cinema tickets during Diwali. Today, ticket prices don’t just go up during festivals like Eid, Diwali and Christmas, but also when a film features a big star. Like in the case of Chennai Express, which was released on the day of Eid and had Shah Rukh Khan as its hero. Considering the holiday and a star like Shah Rukh, whose last release was Jab Tak Hain Jaan last Diwali, we were confident of getting an audience despite the hike. Chennai was the highest raise this year and primarily the reason it touched the Rs.100 crores in the first weekend. Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobaara prices were also raised, but the per cent of the raise was lower than that of Chennai, it being an action film,” states Dalia.
Indeed it was a bonanza for theatre owners as Chennai Expresssaw a steep rise in tickets as much as over 50 per cent at some multiplexes. “There is no restriction from the government on the ticket hike. Also the hike is not across India, as we exhibitors do not want to