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Study: India pix scene splits on class lines

Hollywood fares no better than local titles

Modernization is splitting India’s exhib biz along the lines of geography and class, according to a study from U.K.-based media analyst Dodona Research.

Dodona says admissions, 2.7 billion this year in a country of 1.2 billion people, are in long-term decline while the distrib/exhib infrastructure is at best creaky and fragmented.

Hollywood fares no better than local titles and accounts for 8%-10% of total grosses. A 250-print release for “Spider-Man 2” is the largest on record for a U.S. movie.

High-quality multiplexes in cities are replacing single-screen hardtops. Plexes attract the affluent middle class and charge higher prices. At the other end, low-spec digital projection is driving down costs and taking cinema to smaller locations and the less well-off. Around 100 d-cinema systems have been installed.

Advantages of digital are fresher image quality and the ability to release pictures at the same time as in the 35 major cities, boosting occupancy rates and apparently cutting piracy.

Dodona says the number of screens will at best stay static at around 11,000 and that ticket sales will decrease to a low of 2.4 billion in 2008, an average of two visits per head.

Increases in box office revenues will be driven by higher prices at the new multiplexes, which charge just 43¢ for a weekday ticket, rising to $4.50 at the weekend.

The report shows gross B.O. revenues (including local taxes that may account for up to a third of ticket prices) climbing from $1.91 billion to $2.2 billion by 2008. It says snacks and drink concessions account for 20%-25% of plex revenues.

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