Indian cinema has come a long way since 1912, when the first motion picture hit the silver screen. Being a medium of mass reach, business houses found it a lucrative opportunity and set up cinema halls in their respective geographical locations. The advent of Eastman colours was the first major revolution in cinema and it turned cinema into a rage among the people of India.
With advancements in technology, increasing spending power and the number of genres in cinema, the second revolution in cinema started around 1997, with the birth of the multiplex culture. This was when the cinema exhibition business moved from family-owned, single-screen set-ups to MNC-style, professionally managed multiplexes. Cinema exhibition emerged as a lucrative business with the arrival of cinema chains. These advancements took the exhibition business to a whole new level, where every action is analysed and programmed on the basis of data and logic.
In the advanced business model, the risks in the movie business are shared between three stakeholders – developer, distributor and exhibitor. The fixed-rental formula for exhibition is history and the revenue-sharing formula has replaced it, providing a win-win situation for all stakeholders.
Like most other businesses, the ‘customer is king mantra has been adopted by screen operators and every little detail, like projection quality, seating arrangements, show timings, washroom facilities, food and beverages etc is taken care of to give the best cinema experience to the consumer.
Movie marketing has also come a long way, with stars becoming a major part of the strategy. The stars themselves have become proactive in promoting their movies much before the release through all kinds of mediums with their financial stake in the earnings. Not just Bollywood but even Hollywood actors visit multiplexes in India to promote their new releases.
The multiplex way of exhibition is gaining popularity and is now moving from Class A to class B and C cities. Who would have thought a multiplex in Patna would become the highest revenue-spinner for a MNC entering India?
The Indian multiplex industry has grown with lot of operators entering the fray after sensing the potential but a very few have been successful in keeping their ground stable. Many have even exited the business. As in all businesses, the key to success here too is focus, consistency and customer satisfaction. Keeping their business focus, operators who believe in ‘live, eat and breathe’ cinema are bringing about a huge difference in the industry. The Rs 100-crore business of cinema is on the upward swing and professionally focused companies are taking it to another level.
Evolution of Multiplexes from 1997 to 2012
Over the last 15 years, modern Indian multiplexes have gone through a huge transition.
• Family-owned cinema halls to public limited companies and MNCs: With advancements in the industry, big public limited companies and MNCs have taken over the cinema business with large-format cinemas.
• A movie every four weeks to four movies a week: With numerous releases every week, multiplexes have the liberty of changing movies within the week.
• Manual ticketing to online, easy ticketing: With the IT revolution, movie tickets are just a click away.
• Black marketing to exclusive loyalty programmes: The days of buying tickets in the black are history. It is the age of loyalty programmes with freebies and free ticket offers.
• Hollywood contribution 3 per cent to 21 per cent: With an increasing English-speaking population, the interest in Hollywood movies has risen to a great extent.
• Chhota Chetan to the ultimate 3D experience of Avatar: Technological advancements have given Indian cinema-goers a great 3D and surround sound experience.
• Analogue carbon projector to 2K digital systems: Everything has gone digital from cameras to tapes and projectors.
• Wooden chairs to recliner chairs with lounge: The multiplex culture has brought a very comfortable cinema experience, with cushioned recliner chairs, airconditioned cinemas, etc.
• From samosas to pasta and nachos: Patrons have a wide variety of snacks to choose from.
• Food&beverage revenues growing from 10 per cent to 22 per cent: With the variety of eating options available inside cinemas, F&B revenue has risen considerably.
• In-cinema advertising: This is a rising revenue stream which has seen a rapid increase from 2 per cent to 10 per cent.
• Four shows a day for Chachi 420 to 28 shows a day for Ek Tha Tiger: Multiple screens and shorter duration have increased the number of shows, maximising profitability.
India was under-screened when the multiplex revolution began in 1997. In 2012, it is a ‘` 100-crore industry’ and still under-screened.