It is now well-known that Bollywood’s box office business is heavily youth-driven. In 2016 and 2017, more than 50% of the box office revenues came from the 15-24 yrs. age group. This proportion increases to 65% if one looks at only the first-day box office, which is a crucial number all film marketing campaigns go after.

At the heart of this exaggerated youth skew (less than 20% of India’s population is in the 15-24 yrs. age group) is a phenomenon that has little to do with content itself. It’s about the ‘film companion’, i.e., the person(s) with whom audiences go and watch films

The chart below, reproduced from The Ormax Bollywood Audience Report (TOBAR) 2016, captures the most-preferred companion(s) based on data collected from regular Bollywood film-goers from 56 cities in India. 

As can be seen, friends overpower family when it comes to being the most-preferred companions. In youth (15-24 yrs.), the Friends’ share goes up to a staggering 70%. For many of these young viewers, films (and multiplexes) have emerged as a great ‘hangout’ option, whereby the experience of going to the movies is more important than the movie itself.

It’s this hangout trend that boosted the box office growth in the 2007-2013 period. But over-dependence on one type of audience and one type of movie-viewing experience cannot be healthy in the long-run. We will keep a close watch on how these numbers change by the end of 2017.

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