Indian film industry is all set to witness some big releases in Kannada, Tamil, and Hindi languages on September 30. These releases include ‘Kantara’ (Kannada) from Hombale Films (producer of KGF franchise); and Director Maniratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan Part-1 (Tamil). Movie fans are having huge expectations for these releases.

Often, people wonder why movies from southern states make good box office collections. One of the reasons for this is the availability of more screens in southern states when compared to other parts of the country.

According to data from the Bureau of Outreach and Communication, India has around 31.52 lakh seats in around 8,700 screens across the country. Of this, four southern states have around 4,150 screens with a seating capacity of 18.16 lakh. That means states such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala have a share of nearly 47.78 per cent in terms of screens, and 57.61 per cent in terms of seating capacity.

While Telugu-speaking Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have more than 1,700 screens, Tamil Nadu has more than 1,000. Karnataka has more than 800 screens, followed by Kerala with nearly 600 screens.

Apart from South India, Maharashtra has more than 1,000 screens followed by Gujarat with more than 730. The rest of India has nearly 33 per cent of the total screens in the country.

Among the cities, Chennai has more than 230 screens followed by Hyderabad with more than 200 screens.

Seating capacity

A large movie hall with around 800 seats is what comes to mind when you think of the single-screen theatres of the 1980s and 1990s. The movie exhibition scenario has changed in the last 25 years after India got its first multiplex in Delhi in 1997. Now, small is beautiful.

According to a KPMG-FICCI report, multiplexes typically have lower capacity per screen when compared to a single screen theatre. Multiplexes have seating capacity of around 300, while the capacity of single screens even go up to 1,600.

Almost two-third of movie screens in India have less than 400 seats. Nearly 2,000 screens in India have seating capacity of 101-200, and around 1,900 have seating capacity of below 100. Around 1,250 screens come with seating capacity of 301-400.

Still, there are around 130 theatres with seating capacity above 1,000. A majority of them are there in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh in South India, and in West Bengal.

If you want to watch a movie along with only a few people, there is a screen with 12 seats in states such as Gujarat and Odisha. If you are thinking of watching a movie with a huge crowd, there is a screen with seats up to 1,638 in Asansol of West Bengal.

Screen density

Though India produces around 2,000 movies a year, the highest in the world, the exhibition infrastructure needs to be further improved. According to the investor presentations of Innox Leisure, India had nine screens per million population in 2019, compared to the US and Canada at 125 per million population.

Giving highlights of the movie industry overview in its investor presentation in August, the company gave the number of screens at 7 per million population in India when compared to 111 in the US and Canada.