New Delhi: The first batch of movies to release following the demonetization of Rs500 and Rs1,000 bank notes will hit the screens on Friday with most film fans too strapped for cash to buy tickets at the window.
“At least 30-40% of the films’ business is likely to be affected,” said Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema. “Say a couple wants to watch one of these new releases, they will need at least Rs1,500 in currency notes of Rs100 only. Nobody keeps that kind of money. And even if they have cash, they would want to preserve it for an emergency. Movies are likely to be the last choice in such a situation.”
A majority of movie goers in India tend to buy tickets at cinema windows with cash rather than make online bookings. The box office fate of at least half-a-dozen movies is at stake on the coming weekend.
Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal and Shraddha Kapoor-starrer Rock On!! 2 has had multiplex operator PVR Cinemas waive the convenience fee charged for booking seats online using credit or debit cards.
While the musical drama is anyway targeted at the multiplex-going young audiences used to paying through Paytm and other e-wallets, worse-hit will be the non-star driven releases of the week that are likely to appeal more to audiences in B and C centers, Mohan said.
While Rajneesh Duggal’s horror flick Saansein and action film 30 Minutes have already rescheduled their releases, Ronit Roy-starrer Dongri Ka Raja, Punjabi animation film Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur and several regional films are going ahead with their release.
“There is already pressure in Tamil Nadu and several shows have been cancelled and screens shut down in rural areas,” said independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai, adding that the major release of the week is Tamil romantic actioner Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada, directed by Gautham Menon and starring Silambarasan and Manjima Mohan, which is primarily targeted at the multiplexes.
“The major movie territories of Tamil Nadu- Chennai, Chengalpet and Coimbatore—are mostly computerized. But the rural areas which make up a bulk of the audience will obviously find it difficult. Plus, the food and beverage front will be affected,” he said.
Pillai added that box office collections are hugely dependent on walk-in crowds. Rushing to a movie theatre after spending hours in a queue outside an ATM may not be a choice many might happily want to make this weekend.
“Though at the end of the day, it’s really about how much the film itself is accepted,” Mohan reasoned. “Had the government given some time for people and banks to prepare themselves, it would have been different. But this (the chaos) is only temporary, we just need time to get into the flow of things.”