The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Multiplex pill for city cinemas

Calcutta, May 16: The city has witnessed a drop in number of people viewing movies in theatres, managing director of Columbia Tristar Films Uday Singh said today.

“While Delhi and Mumbai have seen a sharp rise in people reaching the theatres to watch movies, it dropped by 2 per cent of total city viewership in Calcutta last year,’’ he said.

The president of Eastern India Motion Pictures Association Arijit Dutta echoed Singh. “Every cinema hall, on an average, fills up only 20 to 25 per cent of it’s capacity now compared to 35 to 40 per cent a couple of years earlier.’’ Dutta had a meeting with Singh today.

The trade in the city has suffered a drop in revenue of about Rs 20 crore a year because of the sharp decrease in people going to cinema halls.

Motion pictures association sources said in Delhi and Mumbai, on an average, 60 to 65 per cent of the seats in a cinema hall are full for a movie.

Singh attributed the sharp drop in viewership to the fact that there are no multiplex cinemas in the city.

“Calcutta is lagging behind Delhi and Mumbai where many multiplex theatres have come up in recent times,’’ he said. “Here, there is not a single multiplex theatre.’’

In a multiplex theatre, there are several 350-400 capacity auditoriums in the same compound. Explaining the advantages of a multiplex, Singh said viewers have the option of selecting from a series of movies screened in the same complex instead of running around theatre halls across the city.

“There could be cinemas of wide choices like a children’s film in one auditorium, a romantic film in another, an action-packed thriller in the other and likewise. In such a case, the viewer has a choice for his family and even for himself in the same complex,’’ Singh said.

Dutta said the state government has recently announced a tax holiday for multiplexes. “The first multiplex is coming up by the EM Bypass. Several others are in the pipeline,’’ he added.

Dutta admitted that hardly a few of the 70 cinema halls in the city draw viewers. “There is a culmination of factors. But the biggest disadvantage is that today’s audiences want more choice and value for money.”

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