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Match screenings fail to take off in multiplexes

Match screenings fail to take off in multiplexes

New Delhi: The latest edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), now well into its second week, is yet to catch on at multiplex chains.

This is the first year that the quick-format cricket matches are being screened live in movie halls. But in the first week of the tournament’s third edition that began on 12 March, occupancy at the 150 multiplexes showing the matches was below 30%.

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The league’s cumulative reach on television, on the other hand, surpassed season 2 by 13% and the first season by 40%, according to TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd, a TV audience measurement agency.

Digital satellite cinema network UFO Moviez India Ltd, the technology and marketing services provider for the screening of IPL matches in movie halls, blames poor marketing by multiplex chains. “Occupancy for IPL matches in multiplexes has been 15-30% for week one because hardly anyone knew about it," said Kapil Agarwal, joint managing director, UFO Moviez. “Multiplex chains were very cautious in their approach towards the IPL matches so they didn't market it properly at first."

Multiplex chains, in turn, blame the schedule of the IPL matches that have clashed with school examinations.

“The response for the initial matches has been less than what we expected, with no more than 20-25% occupancy," said Jayendra Banerji, vice-president, operations, Satyam Cineplexes Ltd.

Amitabh Vardhan, chief executive of multiplex chain PVR Cinemas, said occupancy for the IPL matches in the first week was 15-20%. PVR is screening IPL matches in 19 theatres and Satyam in four.

Three hours before the Wednesday match between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals, PVR’s website showed only 30 of 358 seats in New Delhi’s busy Select Citywalk location had been booked.

At DLF City Centre Mall in Gurgaon, DT Cinemas, a subsidiary of the DLF Group, hadn’t booked a single ticket for the same show. Answering a telephone inquiry for Wednesday’s match, a representative of DT Cinemas said all 283 seats were available for booking.

IPL has spelt bad news for film producers as well, many of whom are holding back their releases until after the tournament ends on 25 April.

“Box office collections are at an all-time low because there are no good releases and IPL has been a resounding flop in theatres," said Komal Nahata, editor and printer-publisher of trade magazine Film Information.

Nahata said collections at multiplexes are at 5-7% on weekdays since the tournament began, against 20-25% on regular weekdays. Weekend collections have slipped to 20-25% against 80-90% otherwise.

Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint

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