Salman Khan's blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which raked in over Rs 300 crores at the Indian box office, has been watched by a mere two percent of an approximate 130 crore Indian population in theatres, said a cinema chain official.
According to reports, a staggering 74.5 million people across India tuned in to the TV premiere of the film last month. But in a session to discuss the number of footfall in theatres at the ongoing Indywood Film Market, it was revealed that only three crore and 21 lakh people have so far watched Bollywood blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan in cinemas.
"It's startling to know only two percent of India's population has watched the film, which has collected over Rs 300 crores from Indian theatres. Even if we can increase the footfall to five percent, it will hugely benefit the overall revenue of Indian cinema," said P V Sunil, director and CEO of Carnival Cinemas.
The reason, as Sunil points out, is that 50 percent of the Indian population still has no access to cinemas.
"Seven screens cater to one million people in India and over 100 screens in the US. As of today, only 15 percent of total screens in India constitute multiplexes while the rest are still single screen cinemas. Despite being the largest producer of films in the world, India still struggles to generate revenue because most people still have no access to screens," he said.
According to Devang Sampat, business head of Cinepolis India, one of the best ways to increase footfall is to target tier-2, tier-3 and even tier-4 cities.
"We were the first to open a four-screen multiplex in Patna. The response has been extremely good and its average ticket price is the same as that of Mumbai's. This means that there are people with high spending capacity even in smaller cities," he said.
Mr Sampat also pointed out that most multiplexes rely on malls, which is not a healthy trend.
"In places like Madhya Pradesh, people literally travel 50 km to watch movies. Why not we take the screens to them? Why not build multiplexes in these places? Indians don't watch cinema for entertainment; it's a culture for us," he added. (Also Read: How Salman Khan's Secular Beliefs Led to Bajrangi Bhaijaan Role)
Technology too is a key driver in increasing footfall, believes Sohan Roy, founder chairman and CEO of Aries Group of Companies.
Mr Roy is also the chief promoter of AriesPlex SL Cinemas, which is south India's first double 4K projection facility.
"Take the case of Baahubali, which ran houseful for 15 weeks in our cinemas. It was screened in 4K projection and the audience loved the experience. They watched it more than once. Technology plays a pivotal role in drawing audiences for the overall experience in a cinema hall," Mr Roy said.