The State Of States

That India is an under-served nation in terms of properties and screens available for film exhibition is no breaking news, particularly to the informed readership of this trade publication. With approximately 10,000 screens serving a population of around 125 crore, the Indian average of 1,25,000 people per screen is nowhere close to comparable figures for the world’s most evolved market, the US, which has 40,158 screens for a population of 319 million or 7,944 people per screen.

Moreover, as we all know, India is hardly a homogenous entity and vast inequalities prevail among various regions in our vast land when they are compared on almost every socio-economic parameter. How wide is that disparity in relation to access to cinema, or more specifically the most dominant contributor to the Hindi film business – the multiplex?

With India politically organised as a federation of states and Union Territories, this week we are examining the prevalence of multiplexes in each state and Union Territory and mapping these with their respective populations to figure out, well, the state of each state! Take a look at the table below:

State/UTPopulation*Number Of MultiplexesPeople Per Multiplex
Andhra Pradesh^8,45,80,7772140,27,656
Tamil Nadu7,21,47,0302036,07,351
Uttar Pradesh19,98,12,3416033,30,205
West Bengal9,12,76,1153526,07,889
Jammu and Kashmir1,25,41,302717,91,614
Madhya Pradesh7,26,26,8094217,29,209
Himachal Pradesh68,64,602417,16,150
Andaman and Nicobar Islands3,80,58113,80,581
Daman and Diu2,43,24712,43,247
Arunachal Pradesh13,83,727NilN.A.
Dadra and Nagar Haveli3,43,709NilN.A.

*As per 2011 Census of India

^Since Census data precedes Andhra Pradesh’s bifurcation in 2014, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are being treated as one unit for this exercise

As we can see from the table above, the numbers vary very widely. Keeping aside the states or Union Territories with no multiplexes, the numbers range from a high of almost 5.2 crore people per screen in Bihar to a ‘low’ of 1.75 lakh people per screen in Chandigarh – a deviation of an astounding 30,000 per cent!

There are some other interesting insights too. For example, entire states like Bihar, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and more are home to fewer multiplex properties than are present within a 2wkm radius of this publication’s office in Mumbai’s Andheri West! There couldn’t be a more apt illustration of how uneven the geographical distribution of multiplexes in India is.

Of course, the most evident takeaway from the numbers above is the fact that while we may be a huge country in terms of our landmass, population and love for cinema, we are a long way away from the cine-density of other major film markets.

But as the cliché goes, every problem presents an opportunity and, if nothing else, it is obvious that despite all the headlines we have seen over the last few years about big-ticket mergers and acquisitions in the exhibition space, there still remains a huge gap (and potential) in the market for exhibitors to tap into.

Note to the governmental powers-that-be: Some financial incentives from you will go a long way in helping us go forth and multiplex, thereby serving your stated vision of Make In India!


Nitin Tej Ahuja
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As on 14th October, 2017
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