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Festive cheer & regional hits bring brands back to theatres

With cine lovers going back to theatres, advertisers are also finding their way back to the cinema halls. With at least 15-minutes of only advertising running before the movie starts, advertisers have the advantage of having the audience’s attention, without having them scroll or skip the ads over.

In-cinema advertising revenue, which stood at Rs 800 crore revenue in 2019, came down to Rs 200 crore in 2020 and further down to Rs 100 crore in 2021, according to the FICCI EY 2022 report.

The festive season saw Kantara turning out to be a massive hit compared to the main-stream Hindi films, says Vishal Anand, Chief Sales and Revenue Officer at INOX Leisure Limited. “If you look at October, it was good. Kantara was a surprise for us. Traditionally the quarter has been the biggest and will be the biggest in all matrix with the content pipeline that is there, it is making very conducive for the cinema business to be in.”

Agreeing to this, Rahul Puri, MD at Mukta A2 Cinemas, said, “We were looking forward to the festive season with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. People finally want to go out and celebrate with their family & friends. So, the eagerness to go to the cinemas has been very optimistic with the ease of the Covid protocols being relaxed.”

While Cinema is a premium place for advertisers to place their advertising as it gives a different kind of feel to the audiences seeing the ads on the big screen by having the brand in their subconscious as a premium brand. The ad rates have also been premium. The pandemic saw a drop in rates but experts say that it is stabilizing and surely on its way to reach the pre-pandemic level by the end of this quarter. It is likely to surpass the same by the end of this financial year, they note.

Ajay Mehta, Founder, (iTV) Interactive Television, and MD, Kinetic India, said ad rates are in the process of stabilizing right now and reaching pre-Covid levels or higher, depending on the content. While Anand says that rates are established and the ad volume should be back by the next quarter. He said that rates are not a challenge, they are coming back to the pre-pandemic level as we speak. On the other hand, Puri said that they are seeing an increase in demand for advertisers who wish to communicate to reach a larger target audience through the medium of cinemas.


With films like Kantara, Pushpa, KGF 2, RRR and Marathi film Zombivli drawing significant crowd compared to Hindi films, advertisers are investing heavily in regional movies.

Talking about regional movies surpassing main-stream cinema, Mehta said, “Regional Films especially South films are a big opportunity for brands as they are bringing record audiences to the theatres. KGF 2 crossed more than Rs 1000 crore at the box office, RRR close to 1000 Crores, and other films such as PS1 and Kantara have done extremely well. On the back of this, the Indian Box office is looking very healthy and in collections, 2022 will be one of the best of all times.”

“This trend is too big for advertisers to ignore, and they have been smart enough to invest in these movies. KGF 2 and RRR attracted more advertisers on a national basis than some of the biggest Bollywood Blockbusters of the past. Having tasted success with these large event films, advertisers are now keen to explore even some of the slightly smaller films coming out of the South and are tracking them closely.”

“Even Punjabi films are in the midst of a great year, and so is Marathi. Overall, there is now room and audiences for good films and the language does not matter. We have created a tool called Buzz Index which tracks the online Buzz of films before their release and can guide advertisers on which films are looking good for them to invest in. This has gained a lot of traction with our clients as they want to reduce their dependence on instincts and would rather invest their monies after data-driven insights,” he added.

Sharing a different perspective, Anand says mainstream Hindi films will always be at the forefront, they always are in the focus. “I don’t think KGF or RRR are regional films, it cuts across the demographics. They have a mass appeal. Kantara could be a regional film. What does an advertiser want to do? They want to expose their product to a larger audience. When Kantara became a surprising hit, advertisers came in.”

The main categories advertising in this medium are are Food & Beverage, Consumer Durables including handsets, Apparel, BFSI, Media including OTT, and Online Retailers. As per Anand, new age companies are also heavily investing in in-cinema advertising as they are in the stage of acquiring consumers.

Talking about the contribution of advertising in the total revenue, Anand said that it would be about 10-12%. 

Speaking on recent innovations, Mehta said, “We have recently launched Cine Games, where multiple users can use their mobile phones to play branded games on the big screen. This was done with Kwality Walls. A number of tech-related innovations are happening, and Cine Game is an example of that. We are also talking to clients to do anamorphic 3D ads in cinemas along with using lasers and new ways of projecting content.”

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