"The recession has not as much affected the exhibition sector as has been the release of some bad films that have failed miserably. Audiences are not coming in as earlier. You see Yuvvraaj has failed, Dostana has rocked the boat of the Yash Raj banner that has under-performed in the year and the over-hyped Karzzzz has put its exhibitors to a loss of 15 crores. This because films are sold at an exorbitant price, while the income by way of theatre collection has dwindled. People have become wise and don't come to the theatre just for the heck of it; they weigh the pros and cons of a film and only if they see something fruitful in the film's content do they walk in.
The star prices that had gone astronomical will come down sooner or later," says Padam Sacheti, owner, 24- Karat Multiplex adding, "according to me, the year 2009 would be a correction year which would be in the shape of reduction in star prices, there will be good content in films and a correction in entertainment taxes ( 45%) that is highest in the country while in Tamil Nadu it is 0 per cent and Rajasthan it is 20 %. Plus there is VAT. All this has a killing effect on we exhibitors. Since my theatre is a privately funded enterprise, it doesn't affect me much but I pity those who have their property raised on public funds."
Shravan Shroff, MD, Fame Cinemas has his own views. Says he,"Visits to the theatres have been traditionally 'recession proof'. People are known to go to the movies in good times as well as in bad. This has been borne out by the fact that our multiplexes have enjoyed houseful shows and robust occupancies on opening weekends of movies like dostana,golmaal,quantum of solace and Fashion. To add to this, we have been growing our average ticket prices and spend per head on F and B on a year on year basis."
"On the other hand Kapil Bhopatkar, Secretary, Cine Exhibitors Association is of the view that the much-talked about recession which "we are expecting to arrive here in India possibly in the next three to six months. Yes, but tremors have been felt. Like for instance UTV has closed down its Delhi office, Pyramid Saimira has pulled down it's shutters. Plus there is a talk that Salman Khan's two films London Dreams and Veer have been kept on hold. London Dreams was supposed to be a mega-budget film with a bill of over Rs 50 crore but the dream has been shattered now as the money has dried up with banks refusing to loosen their purses to Bollywood." He goes on to add," if and when the effects of recession hits our shores, the production sector will be affected the most as there is a lot of money that has already been pumped into several films.
Going by what has happened as yet this year, several big-budget films including Karzzzz, Dostana and Yuvvraaj have all failed to make an impact on the box-office. In case of the recession taking over people will be selective to walk into cinema halls; they will weigh a particular film heavily before venturing to see a film. Films being the cheapest way of entertainment, it is my assumption, films will be made at cheaper rates, with star prices falling heavily, cost of production coming down. Here too filmmakers are negotiating with stars on their prices and it has been seen that if the negotiations fail, some filmmakers are even holding back their projects. In the case of exhibitors, we will have to pull up our socks and tread carefully."