3 Idiots in 3 cities

The Aamir Khan starrer “3 idiots” has had a bumper opening and is all set to become a blockbuster hit. Interestingly, on the same day 3 friends watched the movie “3 idiots” during the New Year weekend, 2nd week for the movie,  in 3 different cities. One friend watched the movie with his family in a single screen theatre in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh). Another friend watched with his family in a Multiplex -Big Cinemas in Mulund. I  watched with my family, in the Cinemax multiplex at Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.

Three friends watching the same movie on a particular weekend is a coincidence, but does not deserve a post. The point to note is the ticket prices paid for the same movie in the three places. The friend in Bhilai paid Rs 25 for a ticket. I paid Rs 100 per ticket and my friend in Mumbai paid, hold your breath, Rs 600 per ticket (it was a recliner seat). Same movie, same day, only difference was the location. All the tickets were bought from the counter, hence, there was no ‘black’ component.

This is India for you. The cost structure, the paying capacity and the play of market forces over the last decade or so, has created such huge economic differences even between cities. Development economists and commentators  talk  about “India” and “Bharat” as if the divide was only between the globalising “India” in the cities and the largely agrarian rural India as “Bharat”.

As the above example of the differential pricing for cinema tickets  illustrates even within “India” there are so many economic classes, that treating even urban India as one, would be fallacious.Making a pan-urban India success, is a huge challenge, for any marketer or movie-maker. “3 Idiots” seems to be all set to achieve that feat.

P.S :- In response to the above post several friends called me up or sent me offline emails informing the rates at which they bought the tickets for “3 Idiots”. SV informed that he watched in the INOX multiplex in Kolkata and paid Rs 400 for the ticket. SG watched in Big Cinemas Vashi, New Mumbai and paid Rs 220 per ticket. RK saw “3 idiots’ in Satyam Multiplex -Chenna and paid Rs 120 per ticket.GD informed that Pune Multiplex ticket price was Rs 250 in the New Year weekend. RC informed that she saw the movie in a single-screen theatre in Bhubaneswar, reluctantly sitting in the rear stall, paying Rs 50 per ticket, which included a black component of Rs 25.  VS saw it in Durg in a single-screen theatre and paid Rs 50 per ticket.

 Whereas, the range of ticket price from Rs 25 to Rs 600 as was mentioned in the initial post remains unchallenged, the information about ticket prices in other cities straddles the full range, reconfirming the fact that there are several segments within urban India. The price difference between Mumbai and New Mumbai at Rs 600 and Rs 220 respectively further proves that even Mumbai is not to be treated as one market. 

Creating a product like a movie, which cannot be customised for local markets and pricing the tickets at the highest which the market can bear and making the movie successful across allover  urban India is  ‘3 idiots’ real achievement.

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