With “woefully low” number of cinema screens in the country, states need to incentivise businesses to open new theatres specially in remote areas and smaller cities, a report has suggested. More screens will give an incentive to produce more films and help the country improve its ranking in the global innovation index, the report by a government’s task force on innovation has argued.
“Steps must be taken towards opening of new screens across the country, especially in the remote areas and smaller cities,” the report said, adding state governments should “incentivise new screens as also conversion of single screen theatres into multi-screen complexes”. These recommendations would help India improve its ranking in an indicator – ‘national feature films produced’ – under the Global Innovation Index.
In 2016, India ranked 54 out of 128 nations. It was 65th in 2015. It stated that though India produces the maximum number of films in a year, yet the denominator of this indicator drags India’s rank. Industry experts say that as entertainment is a state subject, they must come forward to support this sector as it holds huge potential to attract investments and create jobs for skilled and semi-skilled people. They suggested the states to provide tax concessions to open multiplexes and also for revival of single screens.
“All the states should formulate specific policies and provide incentives such as tax benefits so that more and more businesses come forward to open cinema screens in semi-rural and rural areas,” former vice chairman of UP Film Development Council Gaurav Dwivedi said. He said that screen density in India is the lowest in the world. It is 10 screens per million people as against 124 in the US and 90 in China.
Screen infrastructure is fundamental to boost growth in ticket sales and prices, he added. Superstar Aamir Khan in a recent interview to PTI said that China has shown the way when it comes to taking the entertainment business forward. He hoped that the Indian government also promotes popular art and culture in a big way.
“China have about 45,000 screens whereas, in India, we barely have 8,000 screens for all languages. It is really something that we need to learn from them,” he said, adding “We need more theatres. I think that will really help the Indian film industry”. Due to low number of theatres in India, cinema industry face great difficulty in simultaneously releasing two big- budget films same day. It also affects box-office collections.
Another expert stated that closing of single screens and delay in opening of new theatres is impacting the industry. According to a report prepared by Ficci and KPMG, the media and entertainment industry will grow at 14.3 per cent annually to touch earnings of USD 33 billion by 2020. In Global Innovation Index (GII) 2017, India ranked 60 out of 130 countries. Recognising India’s potential to reach great heights in innovation and creativity, the task force on Innovation was set up by the commerce and industry ministry. Its mandate was to assess India’s position as an innovative country, and suggest measures to enhance the innovation ecosystem in India and thus improve ranking in the GII.