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Guess How Many Movie Tickets Were Bought!

By Vanita Kohli-Khandekar
May 02, 2024 16:29 IST
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More than 157 million Indians watched at least one film in the theatre in 2023.

IMAGE: Shah Rukh Khan in Jawan.

More than 157 million Indians watched at least one film in the theatre in 2023.

This 'theatre-going population' rose by 29 per cent over the 122 million in 2022. More importantly, it is an 8 per cent growth from the pre-pandemic (January to March 2020) number of 146 million.

These 157 million people bought 943 million tickets. That means they saw an average of six films in the year. That number changes depending on the language.

Telugu-speaking audiences are the most prolific; they beat the average with over 9 films a year.

Tamil comes a close second with eight and Punjabi is at number three with an average of five films a year.

Hindi lags with an average of three.

These among others are some of the findings of Sizing The Cinema: 2024, a report from Mumbai-based analytics firm Ormax Media.

In its third year of publication the report is based on research conducted in January 2024 among 8,500 people across urban and rural India.

While the full report is available through subscription for film studios, production companies, exhibitors and others in the movie business, Ormax shared some highlights with the media.


IMAGE: Rajinikanth in Jailer.

The last Indian Readership Survey in 2019 puts the theatre-going audience at 33 million, so this seems like a large jump. Can a sample-based report be accurate?

Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO, Ormax Media points to the only available metrics -- the actual ticket sales (943 million) and box office revenue (Rs 12,226 crore/Rs 122.26 billion). The report is totally in line with those numbers and has been for three years, he says.

Note that the films earned a total revenue of Rs 19,700 crore (Rs 197 billion) in 2023 -- this includes domestic and overseas theatrical, music, television and streaming rights.

Analysts point out that television is watched regularly by 900 million people. More than 510 million people surf the net daily for videos and films. If anything, the reach numbers for cinema seems low for a film-crazy country with a population of 1.4 billion.

"It (the reach of cinema) is only 11 per cent of the country's population," says Kapoor.

In 2019, the last normal year in America, before the pandemic and the writers' strikes, 76 per cent of the population went to the theatre. In Europe, the figure is over 50 per cent.

Note that the reach number will be way higher if you factor in that roughly one-fourth of the time spent watching TV is spent on film or that a large proportion of OTT viewing is cinema. These are not factored in by the Ormax report. Even without that the rise in the overall numbers is impressive, say analysts.

IMAGE: Ajay Devgn, R Madhavan and Janki Bodiwala in Shaitaan.

The success of the pan-Indian film (Jawan, Jailer or Shaitan) has opened the national market for cinemas in all languages, pushing up the total number of people who are walking in.

Kapoor shares the most interesting insight from the report -- the one that the difference in average number of films viewed tells us.

Of the 26.2 million universe of Telugu movie watchers, a massive 83 per cent are regulars. It means they watch more than one film.

That figure is 76 per cent for Tamil but only 32 per cent for Hindi, albeit on a much bigger base. Hollywood scores the worst with 19 per cent.

There could be several reasons for this. Streaming first hit the Hindi and English-speaking markets in 2016; it is yet to serve the Tamil, Telugu, or Malayalam audience as well as it serves the Hindi and English audiences.

2023 has been particularly bad for Hollywood with the writers' strike. The truly big slate of Hollywood films is due only in 2025-2026. This means that "the movie-going habit is strongly formed in South India. This makes the cinema there less vulnerable as streaming rises," Kapoor adds.

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Vanita Kohli-Khandekar
Source: source