Cinema's cultural revolution

Marketing: a leading chain is screening Indian films in its box- office battle against the out-of-town multiplexes

INDIAN FILMS are being used by the MGM / Cannon chain as an opportunity to increase its cinema audiences, in a defensive strategy against the threat of out-of-town multiplex centres. The group has also launched a price-cutting war that has upset the rival Odeon chain.

Although specialist Indian cinemas were common in big English cities in the early 1970s, they were driven to the wall by the video craze. But mainstream cinema attendance has doubled in the last 10 years, as audiences have been attracted to wider screens and earlier release dates. And those attractions are making the Indian film market in Britain viable once again.

A successful three-month experiment by MGM / Cannon at one of its two Leicester cinemas is to be extended to two other cities. Details will be announced later this month.

MGM / Cannon admits that it was responding to requests from Indian filmgoers, and industry observers believe the chains should have taken the initiative earlier. The Indian film industry produces more films than Hollywood, and has a strong following among British people of Indian origin.

"There is a big demand from Indians to see films in their own languages," says Russ Bryan, a spokesman for Mintel, which reported recently on trends in the cinema industry.

Until now, the big chains have rented out cinemas to Indian societies for screenings at non-peak times. While these have often been packed, the arrangements are seldom convenient. Neermal Suri, publisher of Movie magazine, which is aimed at the Indian market, says there is a huge untapped demand.

"If the films were shown at peak time, the audiences would be better," Mr Suri says. "Who wants to go out at eleven at night or three in the morning? And the prices should be more reasonable. At the moment, tickets can cost as much as £10 or £15, which means that for a family of six it may be £60 for an evening out."

Barry Keward, operations director at the Odeon group, says Odeon has rented out screens to Indian promoters instead of putting on Indian films itself, because it concentrates on seven-day programmes and does not have "expertise in the ethnic market".

This approach has left the way open for a resurgence of independent Indian cinemas. Birmingham's Piccadilly Cinema, in the mostly Asian Spark Hill area, has recently reopened. A spokesman for the Piccadilly says it wants to show Indian and mainstream films but is unable to put on new mainstream releases because of restrictive distribution deals for the big American and European films - a view endorsed by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission last year.

Mintel's report pointed out that the growth of multiplex cinemas, usually sited out of town with up to 10 screens, formed a growing threat to existing cinemas, and would force independent screens to concentrate on niche markets, such as foreign and arthouse films.

But many of the multiplexes are now showing films that would once never have reached the commercial cinemas outside London, creating worries about the viability of many existing arthouses.

Now even the arts centres are looking to multi-screen development. Brixton City Challenge is currently converting a disused cinema into Europe's first five-screen arthouse.

The multiplexes are also forcing down admission prices, although West End prices are still more than double those elsewhere in the country. MGM / Cannon has established a Take Two cinema in Hull, where older films are shown at a much reduced price, and this may be copied in other cinemas if it proves successful.

The pricing policy of MGM / Cannon is criticised by Odeon. "MGM is going in for a price war," says Dean Morton, business development executive at Odeon. "They tend to drop prices towards the `dollar house' to generate a volume audience and attract people that don't normally attend." Now Odeon, too, is discounting prices, particularly for non-peak performances.

"We are not so much trying to react to multiplex cinemas, we are part of the trend ourselves," Mr Morton says. "Multiplexes offer convenience, parking, accessibility, different landscapes, and in certain locations they are an attractive option. We have often created five or six screens from a single screen.

"MGM has not been able generally to split into as many screens, and is more vulnerable to multiplexes."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

£250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

£100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn