Content is a bigger reason than cast for movie buffs to watch a film in a theatre
December 21st, 2022, Bhawna Singh

Content is a bigger reason than cast for movie buffs to watch a film in a theatre

The failure of some big-ticket Bollywood films like Aamir Khan’s Lal Singh Chadha, Akshay Kumar’s Raksha Bandhan and Ranbir Kapoor’s Shamshera brought an all-time low for Bollywood this year. With few exceptions and support from South Indian films, box office post-pandemic recovery has finally begun but not at the pre-pandemic level yet. Data shows that the behaviour of cinema-going audiences has changed since the pandemic and so have the reasons for box-office success or failure. So what can pull crowds in movie theatres in 2023, YouGov’s latest survey finds out.

When asked about the reasons for the failure of some of the big-budget Bollywood films, lack of original script emerged as the biggest reason, as said by half of urban Indians (49%). Poor casting or a nepotistic choice is believed to be the next best reason for the debacle (41%), followed by overpriced theatre tickets (31%).

The lack of an original script and overpriced tickets are much bigger reasons for box office failure in West India as compared to the other regions. Ticket price sensitivity is also a concern among millennials who are more likely than the other age groups to consider expensive tickets a reason for the failure of big-budget Bollywood films. Nepotism seems to be a bigger issue for tier-1 residents as well as men as compared to the rest.

A deep dive into the cinema habits of urban Indians shows nearly three in ten of them claim they are movie buffs and never miss the latest release in a theatre (27%). Nearly four in ten (37%) enjoy watching films but would not call themselves a movie buff. The rest either watch select films (23%) or rarely watch films (13%).

Urban Indians who claim to be movie buffs are more likely to be males than females (29% vs 25%), residing in tier-1 cities of India, with a large proportion belonging to the millennial generation (at 33%).

Not only are movie buffs more likely than others to have strong opinions around films choices, but they are also more likely to act on them.

A look into their past behaviour shows, 44% of movie buffs said in the past year they did not watch a film in a theatre out of dislike for the makers or cast but watched it later on an OTT platform. Furthermore, 36% of them claim to have boycotted a film and 27% wrote a negative review about it.

While lack of original or engaging content was the biggest reason to do any of the above (42%), personal dislike for the star or the team or their friend or community’s dislike for them were also influencing factors.

When asked what factors would encourage movie buffs to watch a film in a theatre, storyline or content emerged as the top factor (36%). It is more important than the cast of the film (26%) or its music (27%), factors that Bollywood has relied on in the past. One in six of them consider VFX/ special effects and camera work or cinematography an influencing factor (20% and 16% respectively), highlighting the emerging influence of a film’s technical aspects on audiences’ choices today.

Commenting on this, Deepa Bhatia, General Manager, YouGov India, said, “The pandemic years led to many changes in consumer preferences, including audiences' entertainment choices. Cinema going, once a beloved activity has also been impacted due to the pandemic and the growth of digital content. It is imperative for filmmakers and marketers to understand the different profiles and segments of audiences that exist today and how to appeal to them. It's important to consumer data and analysis to inform their film marketing efforts.”