Despite two big hits in Padmavat and Race 3, footfalls in the country’s cinema halls are falling. At 115 million in 2018 so far, they compare poorly with 313 million in 2017 when Bahubali raked in a staggering Rs 510 crore and Tiger Zinda Hai made Rs 339 crore.
Footfalls were at an all-time high of 343 million in 2013 which saw three blockbusters like Dhoom 3, Krrish 3 and Chennai Express — the three together netted Rs 644 crore at the box office.
While it is true the second half of the year is the better half — the big Diwali release will be Aamir Khan’s — footfalls may not cross 300 million, say industry experts.
Even 2015, which saw the release of the Salman Khan starrer Bajrangi Bhaijan, had just 287 million viewers, an 8% drop over that in the previous year when Aamir Khan’s PK raked in Rs 338 crore at the box office.
The fewer footfalls are probably the result of a lot more variety on television, year-round cricket tournaments and of course expensive tickets. What has probably also kept viewers away from the theatres is the much shorter interval between theatre releases and the television premieres.
That this should be happening is strange given the growth in the below-35 population and their rising disposable incomes and greater expenditure on entertainment. But since 2013 footfalls have steadily declined save in 2017.
The industry, however, continues to make money, though net earnings, according to Box Office India, were flat in the four years between 2013 and 2016.
While there are multiplexes which price tickets less expensively for morning or noon shows even these are not really affordable. For a family of four a visit to the cinema costs nothing less than Rs 2,000, not an insignificant amount.