Trade experts share their views on the buy-one-get-one-ticket-free offer: “It is KILLING the industry. When you give one ticket free, the films that are released alongside or are about to release get affected. People might get used to such offers” : Bollywood News

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Trade experts share their views on the buy-one-get-one-ticket-free offer: “It is KILLING the industry. When you give one ticket free, the films that are released alongside or are about to release get affected. People might get used to such offers” : Bollywood News

The Vicky Kaushal-Sara Ali Khan starrer Zara Hatke Zara Bachke has emerged as a surprise hit, collecting a huge Rs. 58.77 crores in 12 days. The film scored majorly due to its content and hit music score. At the same time, the makers offered one ticket free on every ticket, provided the ticket was bought on the ticketing app, BookMyShow. The offer was valid for the first 4 days on limited tickets. But it grabbed a lot of eyeballs, prompting even the makers of Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse and Gadar – Ek Prem Katha to offer similar incentives.

 

Trade experts share their views on the buy-one-get-one-ticket-free offer: “It is KILLING the industry. When you give one ticket free, the films that are released alongside or are about to release get affected. People might get used to such offers”

 

Sanjay Chatar, of PEN Marudhar, which distributed Zara Hatke Zara Bachke, told Bollywood Hungama, “Only 50,000 tickets were sold for free and that too was spread out in the first 4 days. The offer was given to push the film a bit in the initial days of release. Also, the offer wasn’t there from Tuesday onwards. Yet, the film continued to get footfalls. In fact, the second weekend collections are one of the highest of this year. The film has run due to its content. The success of such films is very important for the industry. It’s only due to the love from the public that it has become a big hit.”

 

Bollywood Hungama spoke to trade experts about their views on this offer. Trade veteran Taran Adarsh said, “It helps in creating awareness for that film. It becomes a talking point. At times, the producer or studio looks at the star cast and content and feel ‘Humein kuch karna padega taaki log theatre mein aaye’. This is especially in today’s times when people are consuming a lot of content on OTT platforms.”

 

He continued, “Eventually, the film has to deliver. If the film doesn’t work, all these offers will not help out. The content has to be strong enough and then, these incentives come as a boon and start creating awareness and momentum.”

 

Trade analyst Atul Mohan stated, “Earlier, we used to pay to watch IPL on a digital platform. Then Jio Cinema made it free. To counter this offer, Disney+ Hotstar made Asia Cup and World Cup free for their subscribers. And now, with this BOGO (Buy One Get One) offer, the mind-set of the consumer undergoes a change. It unnecessarily increases audiences’ expectations. They might feel, ‘Just because we were not going for films, they are now giving one ticket free. Let’s wait a little more and they’ll soon give two tickets free on every ticket’!”

 

He also agreed that the content has to be worth it for such offers to work. He opined, “Agar content kharaab hai, toh ek ticket pe aap dus tickets free doge, toh bhi log nahin aayenge.”

 

He reminded, “When Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan’s films used to release, his followers used to distribute tickets for free. Yet, hardly anyone would go for it as the content matters a lot. Even on OTT, if free content is not enticing, the consumer can change to another film or platform. Hence, the scheme will work only if the content is engaging.”

 

Raj Bansal, the owner of Entertainment Paradise in Jaipur, thundered, “It is killing the industry. Aap ticket rate kam kar do, woh chalega. But when you give one ticket free, the films that are released alongside or are about to release get affected. People might get used to such offers. As it is, they are not coming to theatres (like they used to do pre-pandemic). And everyone can’t lure them with such schemes. Moreover, cinemas are not participating. It’s the producer who’s bearing the cost of the free ticket.”

 

Girish Johar, producer and film business analyst, exulted, “I see it as just another marketing tool. Producers print posters, release trailers and songs, do city tours etc. Likewise, this is also a marketing tool. At the end of the day, audiences want to watch content which is relevant and exciting to them. It may initially get traction. But if we do it regularly, they will not fall for it. If the film is not good, they’ll not venture out. Eventually, it’ll also spoil the business habit for the cinemas.”

 

He continued, “If a film is well made and if tickets are reasonably priced, one doesn’t need such schemes. Viewers will come for it, whether or not there’s any such offer. The content has to do the talking, at the end of the day.”

 

Free tickets add to the producer’s cost

 

The industry experts also observed that when tickets are given for free, it’s the producer who has to bear its cost, and also pay the GST on the free ticket. Girish Johar said, “Like any other marketing tool, this is adding on the producer’s cost. The producers have funded the free tickets. So he will also have to bear the cost of the GST.”

 

Taran Adarsh said, “The producers add it to the cost of making a film. I am not in favour of such schemes. Agar aapki film mein dum hoga, toh woh chalegi. But we are living in very different times. There’s an alternative today in the form of OTT.”

 

 

Atul Mohan said, “They must be having some internal arrangement. Maybe the producer is not paying the nett price and is instead only bearing the GST.”

 

A senior official from a multiplex chain told Bollywood Hungama on condition of anonymity, “The offer was on limited seats. Even for the exhibitor, there’s a lost revenue opportunity. If a ticket costs Rs. 100, then we pocket Rs. 48 while the distributor keeps Rs. 52. This is what happens in a normal scenario. When the ticket is given for free, we both end up losing our share of Rs. 48 and Rs. 52. However, we get compensated with the food sales. Viewers will still eat in the multiplex, despite having a free ticket. Also, when guests get a free ticket, they spend liberally, thinking ‘Bada popcorn tub le lete hai’. As for the producer, he benefits as he gets visibility.”

 

Sanjay Chatar, however, clarified, “The producer bore the cost of the free ticket but as I said, only 50,000 tickets were sold for free.”

 

Free tickets: norm or the exception?

 

When asked if this is a long-term model or a short-term novelty, Atul Mohan replied, “This is not viable and I don’t think it’ll work on a long-term basis. Aap audience ko bigaad rahe ho.”

 

He gave an example to prove why such offers can’t work in the long run, “There are some stores which have sales on select days and it attracts a lot of consumers. But there’s a shop in Andheri which offers three shirts for every shirt bought. This offer is valid all year round and it hardly gets any customers.”

 

Girish Johar agreed, “There are so many films that the audiences are just not interested. If such films also release with a similar offer, people will still not go for it. If we stretch it or overdo it, it’ll not be as effective as intended.”

 

Raj Bansal stated, “It is a short-term thing. It’ll not sustain at all. The sooner we decide to stop this practice, the better it will be for the industry. Instead, we should reduce ticket prices. Ek pe ek free ki offer kapde ke dukaan mein chalti hai. Theatres mein nahin. It’ll push audiences away. They might stop coming to theatres at normal rates if these offers continue.”

 

Taran Adarsh, however, said, “We never know. I don’t think Pathaan or Animal or Gadar 2 makers would use this strategy at least in the first week. Pathaan’s tickets were sold for Rs. 99, that too, many weeks after its release. Shehzada makers also tried the one plus one offer but it misfired.”

 

Content worked for ZHZB, not the offer

 

Everyone, however, was on the same page in stating that Zara Hatke Zara Bachke worked due to the content. Taran Adarsh said, “If you notice, after the four days of the offer, the film started gaining momentum. Many had concluded that it’ll finish at Rs. 10-15 crores. Today, it has crossed the Rs. 50 crores mark and is heading towards Rs. 70 crores now. This is because film mein dum tha. I completely endorse the statement of director Laxman Utekar that sade hue tamatar koi free mein bhi nahin kharidega. If the film is bad, no one is going to watch it even if you give free tickets. Why would anyone waste 2 or 3 hours of their life to watch a dabba film?”

 

Raj Bansal agreed, “The film has done better than everyone’s expectations. I feared the film might fall once the offer window got over. However, the film had substance. Hence, it excelled on the weekdays and also in the second weekend.”

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