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Uniform pricing and an audience-centric slant have helped the singleplex stand its ground in uncertain times

Single-screens have a tendency to survive even when the film industry is going through a rough patch. Despite the increase in the number of multiplexes across the country last year, business at single-screen cinema halls will continue to flourish. And this is mainly due to the ticket pricing strategy.

Multiplexes are bound to a specific pricing format. For instance, according to the Government of Maharashtra, all multiplexes must charge the same ticket rates for a period of ten years. We do not have to abide by any such rule, which makes it easier for us to manage our ticket rates.

Second, most single-screens do not have differential ticket prices for films; they are the same for both big-budget multi-starrers and low-budget films. This strategy may not yield great profits but it makes sure the cinemas don’t go empty. We may earn less but it keeps our business profitable. It is better to have packed houses rather than charge exorbitant rates and have poor footfalls with most of the seats vacant. Since we follow a uniform price strategy, our customers are used to the standard rates and keep coming back. This ensures customer loyalty.

Also, many multiplexes raise their ticket rates for almost all films during the weekend. However, we keep prices constant even during weekends because we know that the audience swells at this time. By offering cheaper tickets than  multiplexes, we also ensure that no one is disappointed.

Admittedly, there has been a large supply of 3D films in India, but in my opinion, for most Hindi 3D films, the technology is not at par with that of Hollywood films. Multiplexes charge a hefty sum to showcase 3D films as the technology used to make these films is expensive.

They sometimes even charge extra for 3D glasses. I think the common man does not really understand the intricacies of the technology that goes into making 3D films and therefore does not feel that these rates are justified. Moreover, the 3D glasses we have in India are nowhere near the quality available abroad.

Not that we compromise on the quality of our cinemas. All the screens in my cinemas are digital screens, which have digital Dolby Stereo EX sound facilities. These provide surround sound and are at par with most multiplexes.

We earn a lot from any film as we have balcony seats, which are preferred by the upper strata of society. We also have room for the lower to middle class audience in the upper stalls. A diverse section of society thus comes to watch films at single-screens. My cinema in Bandra is often frequented even by producers who want to gauge the audience’ reaction to their films as all types of people come to watch films at my cinemas. This helps them determine which film went down with what kind of people.

This year, there is a strong line-up of films slated for release, but one can’t really predict which might click at single-screens. The business of filmmaking has become extremely dicey and predictions can sometimes be wide off the mark.

Nowadays, no one can determine the audience’ tastes as people are exposed to a variety of quality content. We had predicted that Don 2 would work really well at single-screens but we stand corrected.

Films these days lack good music, storylines, screenplay and dialogue. Earlier, most films had a cabaret performance and people used to come to watch this. But nowadays, the leading actresses have started doing item numbers. The audience wants these leading ladies to do more than just dance.

Regardless of the rise in the number of multiplexes, single-screen cinemas are here to stay!



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