Latest Tweets

A Long-Distance Romance?

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:

State Area (Square KM) Number Of Theatres Average Area Served Per Theatre (Square KM) Average Distance Between Theatres
(Kilometers)
Number of Multiplexes Average Area Served Per Multiplex
(Square KM)
Average Distance Between Multiplexes (Kilometers)
Rajasthan 342,239 125 2737 52 32 10694 103
Madhya Pradesh 308,245 200 1541 39 37 8330 91
Maharashtra 307,713 780 394 20 137 2246 47
Andhra Pradesh* 277,808 2780 100 10 39 7123 84
Uttar Pradesh 240,928 800 301 17 88 2737 52
Jammu and Kashmir 222,236 22 10101 100 3 74078 272
Gujarat 196,024 345 568 23 66 2970 54
Karnataka 191,791 900 213 15 42 4566 68
Odisha 155,707 143 1088 33 3 51902 228
Chhattisgarh 135,191 46 2938 54 9 15021 123
Tamil Nadu 130,058 1500 86 9 24 5419 74
Bihar 94,163 260 362 19 3 31387 177
West Bengal 88,752 400 221 15 26 3413 59
Arunachal Pradesh 83,743 1 83743 289 0    
Jharkhand 79,714 62 1285 36 9 8857 94
Assam 78,438 80 980 31 5 15687 125
Himachal Pradesh 55,673 10 5567 75 1 55673 235
Uttarakhand 53,483 46 1162 34 7 7640 87
Punjab^ 50,362 105 479 22 35 1438 38
Haryana^ 44,212 86 514 23 49 902 30
Kerala 38,863 700 55 7 11 3533 59
Meghalaya 22,429 7 3204 57 0    
Manipur 22,327 10 2232 47 0    
Mizoram 21,081 10 2108 46 0    
Nagaland 16,579 4 4144 64 0    
Tripura 10,486 1 10486 102 1 10486 102
Sikkim 7,096 2 3548 60 0    
Goa 3,702 12 308 17 2 1851 43
Delhi 148 80 18 4 42 35 6
All-India 3,287,240 9544 344 19 644 5104 71

*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!

Anonymous's picture