Salman Khan starrer "Wanted" has proved that single screen theatres can spell good business for Bollywood. But scarcity of land and the kind of movies being made are deterring their resurgence.
Manmohan Shetty, the filmmaker who spearheaded multiplex culture in India, now feels that single screens are "vital". Bobby Bedi too has expressed angst against the exorbitant movie tickets at multiplexes.
"Single screens play a vital role in box office collections. Most of the states in the country don't have a multiplex and these survive on single screens," said Amit Awasthi, manager (programming and operations) of Spice Cinemas at Noida.
"We cannot just kill single screens. Both have their own clients because of the gentry and the pricing."
Yogesh Raizada, corporate head, Wave Cinemas, said: "Pricing has always been a sensitive issue since day one for the public."
But the owners of single screens say not much land is available for them. "Where is the land or property or location to start a new single screen?" Piyush Raizada, director, Delite Cinema that upgraded itself into a two-screener, told IANS.
Kiratbhai Desai, owner, Moti cinema, said: "The land is so costly today that no one will invest big amounts for a single-screen. It's not viable. No one is interested in making a single-screen theatre because it is not worth it."
"Wanted" grossed about Rs.38 crore across the country in its first week and 70 percent of the collection came from single screens. But one film is not enough to motivate people to open or renovate single screen theatres.
"It's a catch-22 situation. Multiplexes have actually generated revenues but their ticket rates are high due to property prices. Single screens are mostly family owned and it's just that we are emotionally attached to cinema so we keep upgrading," said Piyush Raizada.
Desai said: "Films today are being made for the multiplexes and that's why single screens are not doing good business. Producers get good revenues from multiplexes and hence we do not get films like 'Wake Up Sid' or 'Rock On!' or 'Paa' because they are now concentrating on films for the classes and not masses."
Delhi-based distributor Joginder Mahajan shares the same opinion.
"Where are the movies for single screens? The only film that did business this year in single screen theatres is 'Wanted'," he said.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh said: "The point is you have to make tickets available for the common man. Today piracy has spread its wings everywhere and you have movies available for peanuts due to that. So if you want consistent footfalls, you have to have a nominal price structure for that."