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Multiplex vs OTT: How one trip to a multiplex can cost more than a year's OTT subscription

With the release of highly anticipated movies like Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One, ticket prices in multiplexes, especially in metros, have surged. Additionally, the cost of snacks can add up significantly, despite the reduced GST for cinema food and beverages. We compare it with OTT prices

Samidha Jain
Published: Jul 12, 2023 12:05:48 PM IST
Updated: Jul 12, 2023 01:49:45 PM IST

Multiplex vs OTT: How one trip to a multiplex can cost more than a year's OTT subscriptionPrices of movie tickets differ as per the experience, the locality of the multiplex, and even time. Image: Pradeep Gaur/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Scenario 1
After a long day at work on a Wednesday, you decide to go to the multiplex to watch Mission: Impossible–Dead Reckoning Part One. You’ve been waiting for the movie for months and want to opt for the finest cinema experience, so you book the INOX Insignia show which costs Rs 2,100 (Atria Mall, Worli). Add to that some popcorn (but, of course) and a soft drink, which costs Rs 390 and Rs 330 respectively. The cost of your cinema experience now comes to a total of Rs 2,850.  

Scenario 2
You’ve reached home, had dinner, and are now sitting down with your family to watch a movie. The consensus is to watch Mission: Impossible–Fallout, and you realise it’s available for a subscription on Prime Video for Rs 1,499 (annually), or you can rent it on YouTube or Apple TV for Rs 80 and Rs 120, respectively. You go for the subscription and, with your entire family, watch the film for a price that’s nearly half of what it would have cost you at a theatre for a solo viewing.

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With the release of much-awaited movies like Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One, Oppenheimer, and Barbie, ticket prices in multiplexes, especially in metros, have skyrocketed, going as high as Rs 2,100 per ticket. Add to that a few hundreds, if you want to munch on something while watching, and the total could be nearly double of your annual subscription for an OTT platform. This even after the government reduced GST for F&B consumed in cinemas. Forbes India does a comparison.

Let’s first look at the subscriptions of major OTT players in India:

Multiplex vs OTT: How one trip to a multiplex can cost more than a year's OTT subscription

Now let’s move to watching movies at multiplexes, especially in metros, which can now be considered a luxury experience. Besides the soaring ticket prices, multiplexes also offer finedining experiences—from pizzas to sushi and biryani—for a premium. Even the ubiquitous popcorn, an integral part of a moviegoing experience that comes for anything between Rs 30 and Rs 60 at single screens, costs between Rs 390 and Rs 550 at multiplexes, based on flavour and size of the tub. This, too, is subject to the locality. For example, if a combo of popcorn and soft drinks costs Rs 680 in PVR Palladium, at Mumbai’s posh Lower Parel area, it comes for Rs 518 at PVR in Palava in the suburbs of Dombivli. Cinema-goers have recently been offered some relief on this front as the government, on Tuesday, announced it will reduce GST on food and beverages in cinemas from 18 percent to 5 percent, bringing it in the bracket of ‘restaurant service’. What will food cost at a typical multiplex? 

Multiplex vs OTT: How one trip to a multiplex can cost more than a year's OTT subscription

Why are food prices so high?

Several factors could contribute to the elevated prices of food in multiplexes, including the lack of any competition once the viewers are inside. In many cases, the increased price of food and beverages helps the multiplex offset the costs of offering lower-priced tickets. By lowering ticket prices, multiplexes attract a larger number of customers, resulting in increased foot traffic, which eventually leads to a higher sale of food items. A major reason could also be that all multiplexes have full authority of deciding the prices of food items without an authority to keep a check, barring the taxes applied. They do so based on competition from other multiplex chains.  

Also read: How multiplexes can thrive in the age of OTTs

Similarly, prices of movie tickets also differ as per the experience, the locality of the multiplex, and even time. Here’s a comparative study with the ticket prices of Mission: Impossible–Dead Reckoning Part One for July 12

Multiplex vs OTT: How one trip to a multiplex can cost more than a year's OTT subscription

Why go to cinemas still?

Although the ticket prices and the F&B prices are sometimes extraordinarily high, many still prefer to watch movies on a big screen in a theatre/multiplex as compared to their phones or TVs. This preference is especially higher for movies such as Mission: Impossible series, Oppenheimer and other such action films across Hollywood and Indian cinema. This is because the experience of the big screen, the ambience of a theatre, and the sound quality cannot be matched with a phone/TV screen. Which explains why many multiplexes started pre-booking for Mission: Impossible and Oppenheimer much in advance and are already pre-booked for the first few days of the release of both films.


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