Streaming sites push theatres out of biz

Streaming sites push theatres out of biz

From 1,500, the number of theatres in the state has come down to 450

Kapali theatre, Gandhinagar, which once had the highest seating capacity in Asia, recently shut down. It is one of many affected by real-estate pressure, multiplex culture, and more recently, the advent of app-based streaming sites such as Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime. Other standalone cinemas that have closed down are Sangam, Majestic, Himalaya, Tribhuvan, Sagar and Kailash, to name just a few.

Just about three years ago, the state was flourishing with 1,500 theatres. The number has come down to 450, according to a top distributor and member of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce.

Gone are the days when movies could ran past 100 days and 25 weeks. Now, even star-studded movies like ‘KGF’, ‘Kurukshetra’ and ‘Yajamana’ are not able to push beyond 50 days.
Recent movies like ‘Ayushmanbhava’ and ‘Brahmachari’ have been successful in receiving appreciation from its audience and bagged impressive ratings. However, these factors did not work as parameters to draw people to the theatres.

The popular South Indian actor Rajinikanth’s movie that once fetched 15 to 20 crores has now shrunk to a 9-crore collection in Karnataka. ‘Dabangg 3’ that hit the screen at the end of 2019, failed to gain theatres in Hindi speaking Mumbai circuit.

Many districts in Uttar Kannada have stopped screening movies on an everyday basis. Once or twice in two months, when a star-studded movie surfaces, the theatres see a continuous run for a week and remain shut the rest of the time, waiting for another movie to hit the screen. Tumkuru district, which was earlier equipped with 50 touring talkies and 15 to 20 theatres, is now left with just 10 theatres and no touring talkies.

GST has also played a role in the audiences’ reluctance to go to theatres. Before GST, movies in regional languages were tax-free. Even ticket booking apps like Bookmyshow charge Rs 30 to Rs 40 more than the actual price.

Jayanna, producer and distributor, says, “If a family of four members plan to watch a movie in a multiplex, they would be spending around Rs 2,000 with extravagantly priced food and beverages offered. In such cases, they will find it easier to wait for 30 days and watch the same movie at home when it’s released on OTT platforms.”

He also says that the down-facing economy has left very little dispensable income with the people and the high priced movie tickets act as no incentive to them. This will eventually push directors and producers to make movies with low-budget as even a great storyline with a big-budget will not assure satisfactory returns. Keeping in mind the current scenario, the Kannada audience should stop expecting big-budget movies in the future.

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