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Screen Test

Whenever tradewallahs discuss a film promo or a campaign that has just been launched, among the first comments that you hear are those deeming the product ‘multiplex-friendly’ or, alternatively, skewed towards ‘single-screen audiences’.

Underlying this distinction is the belief that the patron base for single-screen properties is not identical with that of multiplexes. Moreover, the two groupings have dissimilar content preferences and therefore, films that appeal to one may not necessarily appeal to the other.

On the face of it, this would seem a facile distinction. A film, after all, is a uniform product irrespective of its place of exhibition and you are going to watch the same film – opening frame to end credits – no matter where you choose to do so. Of course, you may favour a particular cinema property, be it a multiplex or a single-screen theatre, for various reasons – its location, its ticket price levels, suitability of show timings, quality of seats, and other factors. However, it would seem unlikely that you would choose to visit a multiplex for a particular kind of film and a single-screen theatre for another.

Yet despite its seeming illogicalness, this ‘multiplex versus single-screen content’ classification persists widely within the trade. Why so? This week, we thought it would be interesting to look at what the numbers have to say and whether the data confirms or refutes that theory.

The table below looks at the contribution of various multiplex chains towards the lifetime collections of a cross-section of films released this year, as also the relative ratio of multiplexes and single-screen properties to each film’s collections. Take a look:

The share of all multiplex chains with more than 20 screens each has been individually indicated above, while that of the 73 multiplex properties that have less than 20 screens each has been consolidated, as is the share of all the single-screen theatres. The way to read this table is: the PVR-Cinemax chain of theatres contributed 23.65 per cent to Wazir’s lifetime collections, Inox contributed 16.72 per cent…so on and so forth. The cumulative contribution of all multiplex properties towards the film’s collections was almost 86 per cent while single-screen theatres chipped in with 14 per cent.

The numbers speak for themselves and what they say is very interesting! There certainly is a very significant and discernible deviation between films like Ghayal Once Again and Kya Kool Hain Hum 3 on one side and Neerja, Wazirand Airlift on the other. While all these films differ quite widely in terms of their subjects and genres, one could perhaps group Ghayal Once Again and Kya Kool Hain Hum 3 as what the trade calls ‘mass’ films and the three other films as ‘class’ films.

You may agree or disagree with the suitability of this ‘mass’ versus ‘class’ nomenclature but there is no disputing the substantial variation in the relative contribution of multiplexes and single screens between these two groupings, on the evidence of the data above. So much so that while more than half of Ghayal Once Again’s collections came from single-screen theatres, the same category of properties contributed less than 5 per cent to Neerja’s collections.

Long story cut short: there definitely seems to be merit in the trade’s categorisation of films as skewed towards multiplexes or single screens, and producers of unreleased films should bear this in mind while planning their marketing and distribution strategies.

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