For the purposes of representation only

When you have a couple of 100 rupee notes left in your wallet, what would you spend them on? When given a choice to use these notes for food, medicines or satisfying your basic needs, spending on a movie will not feature on your list. Ever since Prime Minister Modi announced that 500 and 1000 rupee notes will be scrapped, the banks and ATMs have been overcrowded. Although this decision has many long-terms benefits, it has affected the business of small vendors, departmental stores, supermarkets. Joining the list of those hit are also theatres and cinema halls.

The currency issue has already affected the second-week collection of movies such as Shivaay and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which released last Friday. Some producers could already see the consequences that this decision might have and hence they decided to postpone their film releases. The release of a Bollywood movie Sansein that was supposed to release on November 11, along with Rock On 2, has been pushed to a later date. However, the much-awaited sequel of Rock On was released on Friday.

The first day collections of the Farhan Akhtar-Shraddha Kapoor movie were down. Keeping the currency problem in mind, PVR Cinemas also announced two days prior the movie’s release that they won’t be charging the convenience fee when a consumer buys Rock On 2 tickets. Actor and co-producer of the movie Farhan Akhtar also took to Twitter to share the news with his followers.

“In response to the decommissioning of Rs 500/1000 notes, PVR Cinemas has decided not to charge the convenience fee, when you use your credit/debit card for purchasing your Rock On 2 tickets at or on the PVR app. Thank you PVR team for recognising the issue and making it easy and efficient for the audience to enjoy our film ‘Rock On 2’ at no extra cost,” the actor tweeted.

However, even after taking these steps the theatres weren’t successful in pulling the audience to the cinema halls in large numbers.

An operation official at PVR Juhu stated that the decommissioning of 500 and 1000 rupee notes has severely affected the ticket sales. “For the morning show, hardly 15 tickets were sold out. Usually, shows are pre-booked on the weekend but this time that was not the case. It is afternoon now and only 40 to 50 tickets are booked. Sales have gone down by 30% to 40%.”

An executive at Cinepolis Andheri West confirmed the same and said, “Usually, we have at least a few shows that are sold out but today is a bad day for the box office. The sales are down by 45%.”

However, it’s not just the multiplexes that are suffering. Major losses are being faced by the single screen theatres as well. “In the morning show, there were hardly eight people. Until now we have just sold 42 tickets. Today our business is down by 90 to 95%,” stated an executive of a popular single screen theatre at Juhu.

The note ban has been seriously affecting the sales of tickets at the box office and this will be the scene for a week or two until the currency is properly in circulation. More than the metro cities, the degree of impact will be seen more in two and three-tier cities.

“We have our cinema halls in various places in India and the main impact will be seen in small cities. Unlike people in metros, people in two- to-three- tier cities are not very aware of the use of plastic money. They don’t use online portals. They believe in spending cash. In places such as Kanpur, Bhilai, Bilaspur and Lucknow, people haven’t really booked many tickets for Rock On 2. In these places the effect will be bigger,” shares an official at PVR.

Big banner movies like Force 2, Dear Zindagi, Kahaani 2, Dangal and Befire are queued to release in the following weeks. Now, what’s left to see is whether the decommissioning of currency will affect the success and box office collections of these movies. Will Bollywood lose out on money or will the producers postpone the release dates for their movies?