The ‘RRR’ experience at a staggering price

Why the revised ticket rates in Telangana for ‘RRR’ could prove to be a double-edged sword

March 22, 2022 03:37 pm | Updated March 24, 2022 12:19 pm IST

S S Rajamouli, Ram Charan, Alia Bhatt and NTR

S S Rajamouli, Ram Charan, Alia Bhatt and NTR | Photo Credit: AFP

Director S S Rajamouli’s RRR (Rise Roar Revolt in English; Roudram Ranam Rudhiram in Telugu) is billed as the tent pole film that has the potential to draw the family audiences who have been hooked to OTT platforms during the pandemic, back into cinema halls. The advance bookings for the much-hyped film releasing on March 25 have been brisk, despite the steep ticket prices. 

A ticket at a multiplex in Hyderabad for the first three days (March 25 to 27) costs ₹413. The same ticket costs ₹450 if booked through the Bookmyshow app. At a single screen, the ticket is priced at ₹230. For the next one week (March 28 to April 3), a multiplex ticket for RRR will cost ₹354 and ₹210 each at single screens.

On March 18, the Telangana government’s home department issued a directive permitting theatre owners across the State to revise the ticket prices for the first 10 days for RRR, conceding to a request placed by the film’s production house DVV Entertainments. Air-conditioned and air-cooled theatres have been allowed to increase the ticket price by ₹50 for the first three days and ₹30 for the next one week. For recliner seats, an increase by ₹100 for the first three days and ₹50 for the next one week has been permitted. The government has also permitted theatres to screen five shows for the first 10 days.

This revision of rates applies only to RRR. However, the revision comes merely weeks after an increase in ticket prices in December 2021. Back then, conceding to the requests placed by film industry representatives, distributors and exhibitors, the State government had fixed the minimum ticket price at ₹50 and maximum at ₹150 (excluding GST) for air-conditioned theatres. Multiplexes were allowed to charge a maximum of ₹250 (excluding GST).

In the pre-pandemic years, multiplex tickets in Hyderabad were priced around ₹150 to ₹175, and IMAX/large screen ticket was priced around ₹225 to ₹250.

In other southern cities
Chennai: Multiplex tickets: ₹190 (for Tamil 2D) and ₹ 202 (for Hindi and Telugu 2D)
Bengaluru: ₹236 (all languages, 2D)
Thiruvananthapuram: ₹130 to ₹200 (all languages, 2D)
Visakhapatnam: ₹265 

Big-budget films such as Akhanda, Pushpa and Bheemla Nayak managed to bring cheer to the theatrical business that had borne the brunt of the pandemic, but the footfalls continued to be thin for many medium and small budget films, barring an occasional Shyam Singha Roy or DJ Tillu

A representative of the Telangana Exhibitors Association, on condition of anonymity, states the high ticket pricing for RRR might be beneficial in the short term and help to capitalise on the post-Baahubali image of director Rajamouli and the presence of A-list stars Ram Charan and NTR, but may not augur well for the business in the long run: “A few more big-budget and star-led films are scheduled to release this summer. If tickets are revised again for Chiranjeevi’s Acharya or Mahesh Babu’s Sarkaru Vaari Paata, for example, it is likely to deter family audiences from frequenting the cinema halls unless the film is truly a spectacle worthy of the large screen experience. There is also the danger of a film fizzling out if it receives sub-par reactions in the opening weekend, like Radhe Shyam.”

While both distributors and exhibitors refuse to go on record to speak about ticket rates and revenue sharing, an exhibitor concedes that it is a tug of war. Reportedly, the distribution rights for RRR have been bagged at ₹50 to ₹100 crore for Rayalaseema, Nizam, Andhra regions and they, in turn, requested exhibitors to hike ticket prices: “Multiplexes negotiate with distributors to get a better share, while single screens get a lower percentage,” says an exhibitor.

Cinema halls in Hyderabad are screening both 2D and 3D versions in Telugu and Hindi. Multiplexes such as Prasads and AMB will be screening more than 30 shows of RRR on the opening day.

The real test of a big-budget film begins after the opening weekend. A starry presence can guarantee openings, but repeat viewing and the family crowds trickle in only in the following week. If RRR manages to hold well, it might go on to become another Baahubali. If it does not measure up, it can make producers, distributors and exhibitors rethink their strategies to woo the OTT-habituated viewers.

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