Planning Commission pitches for more film theatres

Speciality theatres for art films proposed to woo audience

Observing that the number of exhibition theatres is much lower than developed countries and inadequate for a large population like India’s, the Planning Commission has proposed to simplify procedures for setting up film theatres in the country.

The needs of low-income group audiences, as also specialised cinema need to be addressed, a working group of the Planning Commission has said. In a report, it stressed the need for reviving theatre-financing scheme of National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), to make up for the abject scarcity of low cost theatres.

Echoing film fraternity’s demand for special and niche theatre halls to cater to art-house and award-winning Indian and world cinema, the working group bemoaned the lack of such speciality theatres and made out a strong case for promotion of such theatres through necessary financial support in the ensuing 12th Five Year Plan. The report pointed out that when NFDC was set up in 1980, one of its main objectives was setting up of small theatres for this purpose and called for reviving and supporting the theatre-financing scheme of NFDC abandoned in the 1990s.

According to official sources, though the Indian exhibition sector has roughly 10,000-14,000 theatres, including moving/tent theatres, the number is grossly disproportionate to population of the country when compared to screens available to audiences in other countries. Similarly, the exhibition space has also undergone fragmentation in the past decade following the influx and ballooning of multiplexes.

While multiplexes largely cater to urban audiences, high-ticket prices in a price sensitive economy have resulted in limited occupancy rates for bulk of films released in multiplexes.

On the other hand, proportionately extremely low ticket prices of stand alone theatres in Grade B and C centres do not make distribution of films in these centres viable proposition for film distributors, thereby escalating the fragmentation of film audiences and non-availability of film content in smaller centres, they pointed out.

Expansion

To enable expansion of exhibition sector, regulatory clearances for setting up exhibition outlets will need to be simplified and State governments exhorted to come up necessary policy prescriptive and simplify procedures for clearance of setting up of film theatres, sources said.

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