During the course of various studies on this page, we have often seen that while the healthy top line of certain films and the occasional good quarter may sometimes present a decent macro picture, zooming in to ground level shows us just how skewed and uneven the Indian market really is.
For example, in last week’s note (Worst Among Unequals, issue dated January 21), we had observed the massive gap that exists between the collections of the successful, chart-topping films and those of the rest. We saw that the Top 5 films of 2016 earned an average in excess of `200 crore each while those outside the Top 20 couldn’t even muster an average of `4 crore.
Another disparity that the film trade is well-acquainted with is the widely varying significance of diverse geographies as far as the box office is concerned. While we like to think of affinity for cinema as a pan-India phenome non, the fact is that certain regions contribute more than others. Which is why, there are different price tags for distribution rights when territories are being sold.
To explore these regional imbalances further, we thought it would be interesting to study the contribution of the top Indian cities towards the total domestic box office collections of last year, 2016, and correlate them with their respective population sizes. Check out the table below:
The figures are self-explanatory and indicate which cities are punching above their weight at the box office as also those that aren’t contributing in proportion to their potential market size.
Collectively, the 25 most populous cities in India are home to around 10 per cent of the country’s citizenry but they are responsible for almost half the total box office collections of Hindi films. This bloc is dominated by the two largest cities, Mumbai and Delhi, which jointly contribute almost 20 per cent of the national BO even though less than 4 per cent of the national population resides in these cities.
Beyond the nation’s financial and political capitals, the numbers present a mixed bag, with cities like Bengaluru, Ghaziabad and Jaipur performing better than their population size would suggest, while cities like Chennai, Vishakhapatnam and Coimbatore lag behind their theoretical potential.
Obviously, various factors come into play, making the correlation between the sizes of the population versus that of the actual market not necessarily a perfect one. These could be economic – the varying degrees of affluence in different cities; as also linguistic – the low traction that Hindi as a language has in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu.
However, beyond these extraneous factors, we need to examine if there are some addressable issues that are preventing the underperforming cities from achieving their true potential. To name a few: the availability of an adequate number of screens; the geographical distribution of these screens so that we don’t have swathes of scarcity going hand-in-hand with oversupply in other localities of the same city; the affordability of ticket prices; and whether the condition of, and amenities on offer at theatres are in line with patrons’ expectations.