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Brand Strategy Cinema Marketing

What the resurgence of the film theater business means for Indian media plans


By Amit Bapna, Editor-at-large

June 6, 2022 | 4 min read

One of the worst-hit industries in the last couple of years of the pandemic has been the film theater business. Amid frequent lockdowns and fear of the virus, people stayed at home.

Back to film theatre

Indian audiences have been rushing back to film theaters

Things seem to be looking up for the business, with many new films being made and released across the globe in the last few months.

In India too there is a feeling of optimism and recovery being seen in the industry as people are stepping out once more for leisure and entertainment.

As per the recently-launched ‘India is back at the theaters’ report, box office numbers reached a whopping INR 4,002 crore within January to April 2022 – the best-ever performance post-Covid.

The report – launched by Interactive Television (iTV), a part of GroupM India, along with media consulting firm Ormax Media – explores the performance of Indian box office collections from the first few months of 2022 after the turbulent last few years.

In-cinema footfall has been higher than when compared to 2019 levels, and the operating capacity of cinema halls is set to cross the 90% mark by mid-year. Several big-ticket releases are planned across languages for the rest of 2022.

As per the findings, even though there were no Hollywood blockbusters released in that duration, the strong line-up for the rest of the year holds a prospective future for Hollywood in India, with collections crossing 2019.

While Hindi cinema contributed 38% to the box office, interestingly almost 60% of this share comes from Hindi-dubbed versions of South Indian films, primarily K.G.F: Chapter 2 and RRR.

Shailesh Kapoor, founder and chief executive officer of Ormax Media, said: “The theatrical medium has not only bounced back in the first four months of 2022 but emerged stronger than it has been in decades.

“2022 will be the biggest box office year to date, and by a good margin too.”

The return of audiences into cinemas also means that there is major advertiser interest from various spectrums of the industry. For example, around 280 brands advertised their products or services in the opening week of K.G.F: Chapter 2 (a recently-released South-Indian language film).

Elaborating on what the findings could mean to the marketers, Ajay Mehta, founder and managing director of Interactive Television (iTV) and managing director of Kinetic India, shared in a chat with The Drum: “The comeback of the Indian cinema business has been swift, and audiences have lapped up the new releases – thus creating an opportunity for advertisers to reach out to premium audiences in an impactful manner through the big screen.”

Cinema has played an important part in the media plan for several advertisers, especially in categories such as OTT, BFSI, apparel, auto, digital startups, mobile and consumer durables.

In the last two years, due to the pandemic and resultant lockdowns, cinema was not part of the media plans, but with the audiences coming back advertisers will start investing in cinema again, Mehta felt. And that could mean good news at the box office.

Prasanth Kumar, chief executive of GroupM South Asia, concluded: “Advertisers can start planning their campaigns appropriately, and it will help revive the in-cinema advertising domain and the overall movie business.”

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