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BW Businessworld

Film Exhibitors Need Monumental Support From Govt

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Despite an overdose of Cricket in its various formats and the daily soaps, commercial cinema continues to remain the most popular form of mass entertainment in India. The success of recent movies like Avengers, Fast And Furious 7 and Piku, amidst the ongoing IPL, is a fitting example.

Speaking at the inaugural edition of BW | Businessworld's The Friday, event felicitating the Indian Cinema Exhibition industry, Ajay Bijli, Chairman & MD, PVR Ltd said, "The theatrical box office continues to be the main contributor to film revenues. Almost 60 to 70 per cent of film revenues come from ticket sales. While there has been a lot of activity around it, the exhibition sector is troubled by lot many factors and is yet to exploit its full potential. I believe, if we were to really make our industry much bigger and true to its potential, given the size and scale of our country, then a lot of things have to fall in place. We all have a huge role to play."

India and China are poised to be the next superpowers, however, India is far behind China in a lot of aspects including the exhibtion of cinema. Sample this: India opened its first multiplex in 1997 and in the 18 years we have only reached a total of 2000 multiplex screens. China adds close to 5000 screens every year whereas our total output is not more than 250 to 300 screens. Further, India's total Box Office collection is one-fifth of China's.

Ajay believes that a lot can be done to improve the current scenario but the first and the foremost push has to be from the government. "We need monumental governmental support. It has to take the industry much more seriously. The most glaring problem is the entertainment tax structure. It is amongst the highest in the world. The much-awaited GST is, no doubt, critical but the rate at which it comes is equally important. It cannot be more than 20 percent so as to make a significant impact," says Ajay.

The archaic laws are also not helping the business of cinema. Despite adherence to all norms, several 100 screens are stuck due to non-grant of licenses.

Another important aspect which can boost the business is allotting a proper window to a movie before it is made available on the DTH services. Says Ajay "This is a huge threat that is cannibalizing our business. If movies are released very quickly on other formats then the box office revenue and consequently overall film revenues will get impacted. We are already facing such a serious menace of piracy,where people watch movies for free on the same day."

Last but not the least, the exhibition industry itself has a huge role to play. Indian theatres have to be at par with the best in the world. A sub-standard screen, audio technology and customer service will not help its cause. The recent addition of Dolby Atmos speakers to various theatres and services like BookMyShow are a great step ahead but the 3D experience leaves a lot to be desired.

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ajay bijli pvr cinemas cinema ajay gupta