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Back to the theatres... and a potential audience of 146 million!

Back to the theatres... and a potential audience of 146 million!

Back to the theatres... and a potential audience of 146 million!

Ormax Media's pre-pandemic report Sizing The Cinema pegged India's pre-pandemic theatrical audience universe at 146 million. Here's a recap of what the Indian theatrical market looks like.
Published on October 07, 2021   •   3 mins read
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By Our Insights Desk

  • With the Maharashtra Government's decision to re-open movie theatres in the state, the last hurdle itowards movies releasing theatrically has been removed
  • This article revisits the pre-pandemic research report titled Sizing The Cinema, which pegged India's theatrical audience universe at 146 million, or 14.6 crore, people
  • This is the volume exhibitors and film producers will be expecting to welcome back to the cinema halls in 2022

The movie theatres are back. With the decision of the Maharashtra Government to re-open theatres from October 22, the last (but significant) hurdle in the way of movies releasing theatrically has been removed. While films have been releasing in other languages, between the first and the second COVID waves in end-2020 & early 2021, and now in 2021 post the second wave, Hindi cinema has waited and watched, all the way through the last one and a half years, with only a few releases of note to show.

Within a day of the decision to re-open theatres in Maharashtra being announced, more than 15 Hindi films announced their release dates. Their campaigns will begin to break soon, one after the other, and Diwali onwards, starting with Sooryavanshi, we have a major release lined up almost every week.

In Jan-Mar 2020, we conducted a large-sample audience research across India with the objective of sizing the Indian theatrical audience. We eventually released the report in September 2020. For the last one year, the Sizing The Cinema: An Ormax Media Report on India's Theatrical Audience Reach remained a 'theoretical' document. If theatres are not open or if big films are not releasing nationally, the numbers in the report do not hold any meaning in the real world.

But as the exhibition sector prepares to finally come out of the seemingly-never-ending slump, the report is a reminder of what India's theatrical market looked like, pre-COVID. Here are some highlights:

1. An estimated 145.7 Million (14.6 Cr) Indians watched a movie in a theatre in the calendar year 2019, i.e., theatrical penetration of 10.5%

2. This universe contributed to 1030 Million footfalls in 2019, i.e., an average 7.1 films per capita per annum (across languages)

3. Urban India contributes 31% to India’s population but 58% to the theatrical universe

4. Theatrical penetration reduces with town size, being the highest in the six metros at 37.3% and the lowest in Rural India at only 6.5%

5. South India is easily the most-penetrated zone, at 21.8%. As a result, it contributes 44% to the theatrical universe, more than twice its contribution to India’s population at 21%

6. 52% male population of India contributes 61% to the theatrical universe. The contribution of males to the Urban theatrical universe stands at 56%, vis-à-vis 67% for the Rural theatrical universe

7. Median age of a theatre-goer in India is 27.5 years. While the 15-30 yrs. age group has higher penetration, the contribution of the 41+ yrs. age group is sizeable at 26%, because of their high (31%) proportion in the population

8. Hindi (51%), Telugu (21%), Tamil (19%) and Hollywood (15% across languages) are the top 4 languages in which films are watched in theatres in India

9. An average Indian theatre-goer watches films in 1.4 languages, with Kerala (1.7) and Maharashtra (1.6) showing the highest multi-language incidence

You can download the full report here.

You can also read our report on the Indian box office in 2019, the last full year free of the pandemic, here.

Indian Cinema Box Office Industry Reports Pandemic
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