A Long-Distance Romance?

A frequent observation on this page is that inadequate availability of cinemas/screens in our country is among the key factors inhibiting the Indian film market from achieving its inherent potential.

That is true not only in absolute terms given the massive size of our population, but also compounded by the very uneven distribution of exhibition platforms i.e. over-supply in a few areas where many properties are clustered together, while large regions have few, if any, outlets to indulge their desire to watch a film.

In the past, we have explored screen density in India from the perspective of per capita availability, as also comparisons with other major markets like North America, China and the European Union. This week, we are looking at another very important variable that is pertinent to this discussion – distance.

On average, how far does one have to travel to watch a film in different regions of our vast country, the seventh-largest in the world? And considering that a day at the movies has increasingly become a social outing combined with a meal out or shopping, we are taking the study a step further to map average distances between multiplex properties, which is typically where these social excursions take place.

Take a look at the table below:

StateArea (Square KM)Number Of TheatresAverage Area Served Per Theatre (Square KM)Average Distance Between Theatres
(Kilometers)
Number of MultiplexesAverage Area Served Per Multiplex
(Square KM)
Average Distance Between Multiplexes (Kilometers)
Rajasthan342,2391252737523210694103
Madhya Pradesh308,24520015413937833091
Maharashtra307,71378039420137224647
Andhra Pradesh*277,80827801001039712384
Uttar Pradesh240,9288003011788273752
Jammu and Kashmir222,2362210101100374078272
Gujarat196,0243455682366297054
Karnataka191,7919002131542456668
Odisha155,707143108833351902228
Chhattisgarh135,19146293854915021123
Tamil Nadu130,058150086924541974
Bihar94,16326036219331387177
West Bengal88,7524002211526341359
Arunachal Pradesh83,7431837432890  
Jharkhand79,714621285369885794
Assam78,4388098031515687125
Himachal Pradesh55,67310556775155673235
Uttarakhand53,483461162347764087
Punjab^50,3621054792235143838
Haryana^44,21286514234990230
Kerala38,86370055711353359
Meghalaya22,42973204570  
Manipur22,327102232470  
Mizoram21,081102108460  
Nagaland16,57944144640  
Tripura10,486110486102110486102
Sikkim7,09623548600  
Goa3,70212308172185143
Delhi1488018442356
All-India3,287,240954434419644510471

 

*Undivided Andhra Pradesh (including modern-day Telangana state)

^Properties in Chandigarh, shared capital of Punjab and Haryana, considered in counts of both states, but only once in national tally 

All figures rounded off to the nearest kilometer/square kilometer

The way to read this table is: India’s largest state, Rajasthan, has 125 theatres spread over an area of around 340,000 square kilometers. That translates into each theatre, on average, serving a catchment area of over 2,700 square kilometers. Were all of these properties evenly spread, you would have to travel 52 kilometers after exiting one theatre before you came across another – a figure arrived at by calculating the square root of the area numbers. In terms of multiplexes, the state’s 32 multiplexes serve an area of almost 10,700 square kilometers each, for an average distance of 103 kilometers between such properties.

In other words, if you are in Rajasthan and want to watch a film (God bless you for that!) but adamant that you do so only in a multiplex, you better hope that tickets at your closest chain haven’t been sold out because it would be a 100kilometer trek to the next property! As is evident from the data above, Rajasthan is by no means the least screen-dense region. In states like Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha, the average distance between multiplexes is in excess of 225 kilometers. To put that in perspective, it is a shorter journey for a Mumbaikar to go for a darshan to Shirdi than someone in those above states to pay obeisance to their screen idols!    

That’s not even the worst for it. Entire states, not surprisingly in the oft-neglected North-East region of our country, are without a single multiplex, including Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.

It is obvious that at a time when our audience has multiple options to keep them entertained – at home and literally in the palm of their hands – convenient proximity to a cinema hall is the most basic encouragement we can offer those willing to buy a film ticket, after all, distance – like absence, may make the heart grow fonder… but too much distance, and the heart begins to wander!

Nitin Tej Ahuja
Collection Chart
As on 16th September, 2017
FilmsWeekWeeklyTotal
Poster Boys110.31Cr10.31Cr
Daddy15.86Cr5.86Cr
The Rally11.54Lk1.54Lk
Sameer12.86Lk2.86Lk
Mr. Kabaadi11.61Lk1.61Lk
IT*112.16Cr12.16Cr
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