Mumbai's new 24-hour policy is getting mixed response from the cinema sector, as late night and early morning shows are not new to the city.
Theatres in the past have scheduled midnight and early morning shows depending on the movie.
Talking to Moneycontrol, Amit Sharma, MD, Miraj Cinemas, said, “Mumbai has always been an advanced city in terms of culture and we already screen shows in Mumbai as late as 11:30 in the night in some places. For Avengers Endgame, we screened shows at 2 o’clock and 3 o’clock in the night and there were lot of takers for that kind of shows. While, I am unsure whether it (24 hours policy) will work or not, there has been demand in the past.”
He added that location will be key for multiplexes to implement the 24x7 policy.
“Location will be a point of consideration especially keeping in mind the early morning college crowd and call-centre crowd. Way back in 2007-2009, we used to have early morning 7 o'clock shows and that used to go housefull. We have this past record of late night and early morning shows,” said Sharma.
While exhibitors expect the policy to be beneficial in the long run, they are of the opinion that content will be the key factor in deciding whether late night or early morning shows will see strong footfalls.
“The exhibition space right now is waiting and watching. It could develop as an interesting space for the exhibitors but I can’t see it being a money-spinner apart from the time when a big film releases, said Rahul Puri, MD, Mukta Arts.
He added that such shows will offer more specialized content to attract a certain kind of cinema goer and that cinemas would have to develop specific content for some of these shows.
Sharma thinks that for late night shows, it will be more high-end or sophisticated crowd especially over the weekends coming to the theatres.
Such a crowd could result in good business for the multiplexes as they would have higher propensity to spend on food and beverage (F&B) which is an integral part of the movie business.
F&B has given a strong push to the overall revenues of multiplexes. Experts say that F&B segment is very large and ranges between 25-30 percent of the industry and it is more important when it comes to profits.
Multiplexes could gain from the 24x7 policy but single screens will be left out.
“It (24x7 policy) is now being restricted to places where you have mall security so no particular advantage to single screen theatres,” said Sharma.
If additional cinema screening during wee hours will result in more footfalls, theatres will also have to shell out money for maintenance and security.
Sharma agrees that there will be an incremental cost but he adds that exhibitors pay the rent for 24 hours to the mall owners. “So, if there is significant footfall during the late night and morning shows then it is a win-win for both malls and theatre owners,” he said.
Along with maintenance, pricing is a factor that cinemas should pay attention to.
Film and trade business analyst, Girish Johar is of the opinion that ticket pricing for such shows should not be too heavy that the audiences would shy away.
While Mumbai is testing waters for 24x7 policy, Sharma thinks that such a move could work well in places like Surat and Ahmedabad.
He said that places like Mumbai and Gujarat are suitable for 24 hours’ policy because of factors like culture and law and order.