Mumbai: Almost 54% of film viewers in Kolkata have not visited theatres in the last one year to watch a Bengali film, despite proliferation of multiplexes, says a report produced by market research firm IMRB International. To revive the floundering fortunes of the Bengali movie industry, the report suggests creating more engaging content, converting single-screen cinemas to miniplexes, increased use of the digital platform for promotion and distribution, and reaching out to the Bengali diaspora.
IMRB’s research also found that around 30% of Bengali cinema viewers do not contemplate watching a Bengali film in a hall in the near future and that 10% stopped watching Bengali films on big screens in the last one year.
“Original engaging content, a larger pool of good actors/directors and better in-hall experience can drive Bengalis back to cinema halls,” the report said. The total investment in Bengali film industry is estimated to be Rs.150-180 crore, the report said. The buoyancy in investment, however, is not matched by growth in earnings in recent years.
The industry is valued at Rs.120-150 crore in terms of expected revenue in 2014 and has shown negligible growth over the last year.
The report says, according to industry estimates, not more than 10% of the films released in a year break even and around a handful of films, typically five-six, generate enough surpluses to be termed as hits.
There is general consensus that despite Bengali cinema’s glorious past, Bengali cinema content has ebbed over the years, gradually losing its popular resonance and contemporary relevance, the report says. Original stories with an element of surprise, intrigue, humour, contemporary connect have shown promise, particularly in Kolkata and among the urban audience, the report adds.
Apart from focusing on content, other initiatives such as converting single-screen theatres to miniplexes will also help the industry, according to the report. “At present, it is quite difficult to sustain single screen halls with over 700 seats running a maximum of four shows in a day with average 20% occupancy,” it says.
The report suggests that the industry should also focus on the Bengali diaspora. Overseas box office collections of the Indian film industry stood at Rs.1,000 crore in 2013 and is expected to grow robustly, it says. The producers and distributors can start by targeting Bengalis residing in other Indian cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and Gurgaon through selective release of content-driven Bengali films only on weekends in well-known multiplexes, the report says.
The report also says that the industry should look at other initiatives such as renegotiating certain industry practices like all primetime slots at multiplexes being filled up by Bollywood movies, relying more on digital media for promotion of movies and promoting Bengal as a film-tourism destination.