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Moviegoers in cities with strong regional cinema presence have returned to film theatres faster than others after the government allowed cinemas to open in October. Kolkata topped the list in movie-viewing by way of ticket sales since theatres reopened, followed by Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai, shows data from online ticketing site BookMyShow.

Cinemas have sold 700,000 tickets since reopening. There are about 2,800 screens that are currently operational, and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is the most-watched film in this period, with 300,000 tickets sold on BookMyShow, followed by Tamil films Biskoth and Irandam Kuththu, Bollywood offering Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari and Bengali film Dracula Sir, the first new theatrical release after the covid-led lockdown.

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BookMyShow contributed close to 55% of Tenet’s box office collections in India.

BookMyShow had sold 2.1 million movie tickets on 12 January, the highest ever for the platform. Sunday evenings were the most preferred and busiest movie showtime, with families purchasing 85% of the tickets sold. Action, historicals and drama remained top genres with Ajay Devgn’s Tanhaji-The Unsung Warrior emerging as the top ticket-selling movie of the year, followed by Allu Arjun’s Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, Mahesh Babu’s Sarileru Neekevvaru and Rajinikanth’s Darbar. In fact, Telugu films grew 215% between January and March 2020 when compared with the same quarter in 2019, the highest in regional cinema.

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Unsurprisingly, Hyderabad was India’s top movie-viewing city pre-lockdown followed by Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune.

“The one positive this year has been the learning that if there is compelling movie content, crowds will come," said Kunal Sawhney, senior vice-president at Carnival Cinemas. Starting with Hollywood superhero flick Wonder Woman 1984 this week, exhibitors and trade experts said the Indian movie business can expect recovery to gain momentum, and given what the industry has witnessed for most of the year with the shutdown of all cinemas, things can only get better.

Having pivoted to virtual events soon after the pandemic hit, BookMyShow hosted 6,400 of these, of which over 80% were paid or ticketed events and the remaining were free. A total of 37,381 hours of content was streamed through BookMyShow, and 233,219 consumers registered and bought tickets to watch virtual events.

Sports (cricket), music shows, workshops, performances (acts such as circus), comedy and online games emerged as the most popular genres among virtual events. Rambo Circus’ digital edition ‘Life Is A Circus’ was the most popular virtual event of the year with 60,000 viewers and 90% of tickets sold within four days of advance sales opening followed by JioSaavn’s ‘Live Anywhere’, a concert with Punjabi singer B Praak that notched up 20,300 viewers and 92% of its tickets being sold within a week of advance sales opening.

Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi NCR led ticket sales for virtual events. Overall, comedians Vipul Goyal and Papa CJ and singers Aditi Paul and Arijit Singh were top-performing artistes virtually.

“Ever since covid affected our lives the way we knew it, we have been adjusting to the changing times. Over this past year, BookMyShow has innovated with at-home, technology-led virtual entertainment. With over 80% of our events being ticketed today, it is evident that there is a growing demand for exclusive, curated and premium live virtual events," said Ashish Hemrajani, founder and CEO, BookMyShow in a statement.

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