The pros and cons for cinema audience in no-ads policy

Movie-viewing experience in theatres looks incomplete without those series of commercials and trailers that come before a film begins. After all, that’s how audiences have been conditioned for years now. Even cinemas have time and again asserted that they get public awareness, government programs, and other mandatory slides attached from the Censor Board, which they have to play on the big screen before the movie. But it seems a change is underway.

Recently, PVR INOX launched an ad-free movies policy amid declining theatre footfalls in selected luxury screens in Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru and Mumbai. Also, it is believed that weak box-office collections of even the big-budget films have affected the theatre business in the last quarter. Cutting down the length of the ads slotted before a movie from 35 minutes to 10 minutes, the theatre chain is looking to add extra shows. Can this practice actually push more footfalls into theatres? Will it change the experience for moviegoers in any way? Does the time buffer these ads allow audiences to reach the cinemas, be a matter of concern?

Explaining the need to take this step and how it can help in the future, Gautam Dutta, CEO-Revenue and Operations, PVR INOX Limited, tells us, “One of the things that the consumers expressed is that when I get in, I have to wait for 15-20 minutes as a pre-show. So, they’d like it if the ad time was a bit shorter. There was also another set of audience who put a lot of premium on their time, they were the ones who turned around and said that we don’t mind if you scrap the ads and charge us a little more. It’s important to get the right balance between the number of ads playing and the overall experience, and that’s what we aim to do. It’s like an experiment, we will see how people react to it and if they will pay a little extra for a more premium watching experience, or are we able to get one extra show or not for higher footfall.”


Negating the query that they will anytime adopt the no-ad policy, emphasising how ad revenue is of utter importance, Devang Sampath, CEO of Cinepolis states that they have no such plans of removing or reducing ads. “From an advertising point of view, there has been a trend in the past where advertisers were looking at blockbusters for advertising, but now that is switching. They’re now advertising throughout the year, no matter how good the movie works,” he continues, “For example, a movie like Shaitaan has done extremely well, it outperformed, the Kerala market got a huge high. So, the cinema market has always been like that, some movies will work and some won’t, you never know which one would. So, all the advertisers and brands are now looking at continuing their campaign running throughout the year, instead of selected movies. That is what needs to be understood, the footfalls are improving year on year and advertisers are reading it.”

On the other hand, Rajan Gupta, the owner of Liberty Cinema, who has been following this mantra for years, says, “At Liberty, we haven’t been showing ads for years. We are anti-ads. I am really surprised that it has taken them this long to figure it out. At the end of the day, you might be making money from ads but it is taking away the experience from the viewers. The patrons are having to suffer the ads. I am glad they realised it, it’s good for them.”


Advertisements subsidise the cost of tickets at a time where cinema going is still for the common stream. The high end properties where this has been announced, have ticket prices of around ₹1500, so ad revenue is a fraction of the revenue that comes to the cinemas. But for other cinemas where the price of tickets is ₹150-200, if there are no advertisements, it becomes infeasible for the projection systems to be deployed and ticket cost to be justified. A good experience is subjective, someone who is paying ₹1500-2000 bucks and is there for a luxury experience, advertisements do spoil the movie going experience. But, a common man who is in the cinema for two and a half hours escapism with a ₹150-200 bucks ticket, 10-15 minute ad doesn’t really spoil the movie going experience.

Akshay Rathi, Film Exhibitor: If you really have a flow of great movies that can entertain, no one cares about ads or no ads. In the last few months, barring the exceptions of Shaitaan, Laapataa Ladies and a few other releases, we haven’t delivered the best content. There has been a decrease in footfall because of the inconsistency of the quality of content. Give me a Jawan or Pathaan, Gadar, or a Kerala Story every second week, the footfalls will skyrocket.

Girish Johar, Producer and Film Trade Analyst: This is just another way to lure the audiences in, but the issue on ground reality is that this is happening only in the premium cites and not the regular audience cites. They will ask for an extra amount on the ticket price for this premium offering. It’s a good marketing tool to be explored but it should give them a couple of hours to add another show on their screens. If it’s done at a wider level, it will have more added benefits. Since films aren’t doinkg great business, probably that’s why theatres want more audience footfalls, but because there are no audience footfalls, ad revenue is also less, brands might just pause for a moment. As a consumer or buyer of a ticket, when I am watching a particular film, I would want to watch a couple of trailers, probably a 7-minute plan but not at all a 20 minute plan. It’s not a comfortable experience for the audience.

Related Articles

Back to top button