Single-screen halls to get a booking app

A Kannada film exhibitor is developing a smart-phone app to bring customers back to single-screen cinemas, whose collections have plunged since the recall of high-value notes.

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 17.12.16
  •  

Bangalore, Dec. 16: A Kannada film exhibitor is developing a smart-phone app to bring customers back to single-screen cinemas, whose collections have plunged since the recall of high-value notes.

While pan-national apps like BookMyShow have been around for a few years, the single-screen theatres that mostly show Kannada movies were dependent on cash payments.

The cash crunch has slashed ticket sales by up to 60 per cent at these cinemas, which cater to the less well-off and charge about Rs 80 a ticket - a third or fourth the price at the multiplexes.

K.V. Chandrashekar, former president of the Kannada Film Chamber of Commerce and owner of several single-screen theatres, said his Android app would be launched in about 10 days and would cover more than 30 theatres to start with.

"Apps like BookMyShow charge up to Rs 35 per ticket for booking tickets. We will charge under Rs 5," he said.

"The app will also bring transparency to the collections at each theatre, so the distributors would know how many tickets sold for each show."

Sa Ra Govindu, chairperson of the Kannada Film Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the development.

"We needed a smart solution as a 60 per cent drop in ticket sales is unsustainable," he said. "Kannada movies are made for the masses. This app can take care of that segment."

Govindu said several theatres in northern Karnataka had cancelled shows because of poor attendance.

Multiplexes account for 270 screens in Bangalore against 180 single-screen cinemas. The rest of Karnataka has 635 single-screen theatres, with just around 100 screens in multiplexes in Mysore, Hubli, Belgaum and Mangalore.

Young filmmaker Pawan Kumar, whose Lucia is the first crowd-funded film in Kannada, lauded the idea.

"The main benefit is the total transparency for film-goers, theatre owners, distributors and producers. Otherwise, we were dependent on the word of the theatre owners who could manipulate collection figures," Kumar said.

Representatives of film distributors now hang around the theatres and literally count heads to keep a tab on ticket sales.

Film producer M.S. Ravindra said the industry shouldn't have waited for a disrupter like the demonetisation to go digital.

"A bit more proactiveness would have brought the solution (transparency) much earlier," Ravindra said.

Deepak Gangadhar, manager of PVR Cinemas in Mangalore, had a word of caution.

"The industry shouldn't get discouraged if people initially resist such changes (online booking). In a short span of time people will accept the change that we (multiplexes) have already experienced," he said.

Ashok Pamidi, regional head of software exporters' lobby Nasscom, said: "That's the way to go in these changing times when the government is serious about digitisation."

He added: "Since low-cost smart phones are already penetrating the very small towns and even some villages, I think it's time our film industry banked on technology in all aspects."

Movie buff Ramesh Goudar needed just one assurance before downloading the app on his sub-Rs 5,000 Android phone.

"Maintain the current prices and don't take the multiplex route of exorbitant rates," the auto driver said.