Indian films fare better in China as number of local theatres declined in 5 years: MIB Secy

There is a need to increase the share of the media and entertainment sector in the overall GDP to over 1 per cent, Apurva Chandra, Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) said.

Published: 27th September 2022 04:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th September 2022 04:17 PM   |  A+A-

Apurva Chandra takes charge as Labour Secretary

Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Apurva Chandra (File Photo| Twitter/ @PIBMumbai)


MUMBAI: Indian films are doing better business in China than in India because of a decline in the number of theatres in the country, a top government official said on Tuesday.

"We need to reverse the trend and ensure that local films do more business within the country," Apurva Chandra, Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) said at an event organized by Ficci here.

He said the number of theatres in India has declined to 8,000 from about 12,000 five-six years ago, while the same period saw the number of film exhibition halls in China jumping to nearly 70,000 from 10,000.

"That is why some of the Indian films are doing better in China than in India, which is a trend which we need to reverse," Chandra said, stressing that the solution is to open more theatres locally.

The government is assigning this task to the newly-created Film Facilitation Office (FFO), which will work with Invest India and National Single Window Portal for ease permissions, Chandra said, adding that opening a theatre is no less than setting up an industry.

He ruled that a town in Malda in West Bengal has a population of over 10 lakh and does not have a single theatre. Citing an experience in Karnataka, where the ministry's intervention has helped open six theatres in district towns in the last 3-4 months, Chandra stressed the need to have more mini-theatres.

There is a "craving" for entertainment among the people, Chandra said, citing last week's 'tickets at Rs 75' effort by theatres which pulled in good ticket sales even in morning shows.

He said people want movies to come at the right price, and the exhibition industry needs to be mindful of the same.

Meanwhile, Chandra said the government will introduce the amendments to the Cinematograph Act in the upcoming winter session of Parliament, and that he held discussions with filmmakers in Mumbai on Monday who welcomed changes to curb piracy and also age classification for the 'U/A' certification.

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Stating that the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC) industry can be a big revolution like the IT industry for the Indian economy, he said there has been no progress on having a centre of excellence (CoE) for the industry despite a lot of talk in last 5-6 years.

He said the central government is serious about expediting the same and has taken an in-principle decision to set up the CoE in collaboration with the industry where MIB will be taking a 48 per cent stake and the remaining will be divided equally between industry lobby groupings Ficci and CII.

Chandra, who chairs the AVGC task force, said the panel will be submitting its report in the next 15 days.

All the four sub-committees on skills, education, gaming and creating incentive structures for the industry have submitted their reports and the compilation of the same into a single final report is underway.

ALSO READ: How do we save theatres?

The upcoming introduction of 5G networks will open up the possibility of the direct-to-mobile broadcast of TV channels, the secretary said, adding that Prasar Bharti has already come out with a proof of concept on beaming hundreds of channels on a mobile phone without internet with a "small attachment".

There is a need to increase the share of the media and entertainment sector in the overall GDP to over 1 per cent, Chandra said, setting a target of USD 100 billion for the industry by 2030 from the present USD 22 billion.

The government is keen to play a facilitating role in this journey and has already taken decisions like merging all its film units like the National Film Archives of India, Children's Film Society and Films Division into one, the National Film Development Corporation, he said.

There is a move to hand over the FFO to Invest India to get more foreign direct investment into the sector, he said.

Chandra also noted that India is keen to collaborate with more countries beyond the current 15 for investments in the film sector.


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