Products/Services India should have – 8 – Rural Cinemas

Finished reading CK Prahlads works on the bottom of pyramid and this idea I had noted down in 2011 seems more doable now, with better enabling technology being available.

So i’m talking about low cost cinema setups in rural / remote areas which are far away from the reach of traditional cinemas and multiplexes.

If anyone wonders if the rural / poor will pay for entertainment,

  • Not all rural are poor
  • Even the poor want quality entertainment – One should check out the shanties along the Western Express Highway in Mumbai. EVERY single house has a Tata Sky / Videocon antenna perched on the roof.
  • TV penetration is high, so people ARE aware of the latest movie releases
  • To see a current movie would require you to travel to the nearby town – adding to cost / time.
  • Tablets / 3G or other connectivity / Projection and speaker Systems are all available, rather inexpensively.


  • Make a tablet app that can cache a movie from a catalog, and relay it to the projector
  • Configure a unit – combination of Tablet, network connectivity, projector and audio system for the suitable audience size.
    • Keep it portable to set it up at different locations as needed.
    • A single unit with everything should cost to the tune of 1 lakh rupees,
    • Could sell or license the equipment to the local business manager like a set top box.
  • 1000 screens x 50 tickets x 20 rupees per ticket x 200 days = 20 crore / year.
  • Advertising revenue is additional.
  • Potential for 100,000 screens or even more.
  • Efficient to manage operations or deal with production/distribution guys if you’re the agency managing so many screens

Making the whole operation smarter,

  • Use SMS and mobile apps to communicate with your rural rep.
  • Have a call center to resolve any issues they face
  • Design and print posters centrally, use postal services to distribute at low cost.
  • Use SMS to promote films to the audience.
  • Play Classics when there are no new releases
  • Get local and regional language content.
  • Maintain a schedule plan and book slots in advance, just like television
  • Have afternoon screenings if you get an indoor venue.
  • Have free shows of relevant content powered by NGOs
  • If relevant, the setup can be moved around to other nearby villages using local transport
  • Include a watermark unique Id on the print of the film, so in case of piracy / leakage of print, the source can be identified and penalized.

You gotta do a better job than the traveling cinemas, which are fading away in the light of competing entertainment sources in cable TV, bootlegged DVDs and video parlors. As a single player, the power with content owners would be higher than the small traveling cinema players who won’t easily be able to access latest content.

MAYBE People won’t attach enough importance to new releases to consider paying for them while they have entertainment via Cable TV, so it needs a pilot and scale approach. The angle of social / community viewing of films, making them a picnic of sorts may work in its favor.

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