Feature films, fewer shows may impact cinema revenue

NEW DELHI: Cinemas, since reopening after the third wave of the pandemic subsided, have been with long films which have reduced the number of shows possible, in turn affecting revenues.

movies like Jhund, Radhe Shyam, Gangubai Kathiawadi, The Kashmir Files and more recently RRR, have made it difficult, especially for single screens, to air more than four shows a day, thereby reducing overall box office prospects by 20-25%. Most of these new movies are over two and a half hours long with RRR touching three hours.

Cleaning and sanitizing add to the lag, along with the publicity and gap, making it difficult to schedule more shows.

“Feature films hamper shows and screens throughout the day. Thanks to its length, a film like RRR can only be played in four shows a day, instead of five, on single screens, reducing activities by at least 25%,” said Bihar-based independent operator Vishek Chauhan, who is currently dividing programs between two feature films, RRR and The Kashmir Files.

The period drama of SS Rajamouli RRR making box office money since its release last week could have played on an additional 2,000 to 3,000 screens had it been shorter and grossed more, trade pundits said. Since all movies currently airing are long, they could not be inserted into different screens.

“Shorter movies make life easier. A three-hour film is preceded by five to ten minutes of advertising and has a 10-minute interval. Additionally, an additional 15 minutes are required for cleaning and disinfecting, which adds an additional 30 minutes to overall screen time. Everything is late and that’s also a problem for the public,” Chauhan explained.

In the south, long movies pose a challenge, especially on opening days and weekends, independent business analyst Sreedhar Pillai said when single screens start shows early in the morning and are eager to hold as many screenings as possible throughout the day. Tamil star Ajith’s latest film Valimaireleased at the end of February, was 2 hours 58 minutes long.

Film distributor and exhibitor Sunny Khanna said a lot of content was now ready, with filmmakers booking dates to take advantage of pent-up audience demand. “We have one or two local releases every week as well as Hollywood offerings. If movies are two hours each, they all get space and it becomes easier to schedule shows,” Khanna said.

jhund featuring Amitabh Bachchan could have benefited from a shorter length, he said. It finally ended with 14.76 crore at the box office. “Suppose a movie doesn’t work the first week, you can always try to adapt it the second week with a new release if a two-hour slot is available in between during the day. But with a three-hour movie, that’s not possible even if the exhibitor wants to give it a chance,” Khanna said.

The length of a film does not strictly pose challenges, but there is certainly added pressure on films to do well, said Rahul Puri, Managing Director of Mukta Arts and Mukta A2 Cinemas. “In case of Gangubai Kathiawadi and now RRRthe increased occupancy compensated for any loss of an extra show here and there if that happened,” he said.

“The days of editing films after release are long gone. Now filmmakers and producers know what their film is, know what audience they want to attract, and then actively try to communicate to them what the experience would be like. before entering the halls, Puri said.

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