The Prime Minister announced the demonetisation of the old Rs. 1,000 and 500 notes on November 8, 2016. The impact of this move on box office has been widely debated in trade circles. Here is some hard data, collected from regular theatre-going audiences, to understand the impact.
Ormax Media asked audiences if they would stay away from theatres because of cash crunch. The chart below shows the week-on-week response, collected across 56 cities in India. In the first week of the announcement, 29% audiences said they will not watch a film in theatres because of cash shortage. By the start of December, this number came down to less than 20%, and by the end of the year, it is still at 13%, more than seven weeks since the announcement.
The impact was higher in smaller towns, where online and cashless methods of ticket booking are less prevalent. Hence, the impact was felt more for films like Force 2 and Wajah Tum Ho, than for metro-centric films like Rock On 2, Dear Zindagi and Befikre.
At a peak score of 30%, it is safe to say that while demonetisation had a visible impact on collections, it did not make or break the fortunes of any film. In the last week of 2016, the huge box office numbers of Dangal proved that even in toughest of circumstances, audiences can gravitate towards a film that they think deserves to be watched.