Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The misuse of a monopoly: Fun Republic Cinema, Andheri West

In economics we always learnt that when a supplier has a monopoly in any service offering, the supplier gets to dictate prices and quality, depending on how essential that product or service is for the consumer. Going to the movie is quite essential for middle class and upper middle class families who make efforts to watch various movies every now and then.

Fun Republic Cinemas at Andheri West has been there for quite some time. The specific area of Lokhandwala has 3 multiplexes operating within a short distance and at least 3 more if you don't mind travelling 15-20 mins. However, within Lokhandwala itself, Fame Adlabs recently shut down due to management issues leaving Cinemax and Fun Republic as the only two operators. I have been visiting Fun Republic quite regularly and never found any reason to complain, however, the recent visits have given me ugly experiences which would now probably force me to look elsewhere the next time I want to go watch a movie.

On the 14th of December, I decided to go watch The Hobbit, especially since I am an LOTR fan. A late morning 3D show at Fun was relatively inexpensive and I decided to book it. The very first disappointment were the 3D glasses that were being offered to the audience. The glasses were horribly dirty and it seems no one has taken any care to clean them or shown any concern for hygiene. There were finger prints and dirt all over the glass and when I tried wiping it clean, i unfortunately stained my t-shirt due to all the dirt. Usually, theatres give out disposable glasses or at least take the efforts to properly wrap them and clean it, but it seems Fun couldn't be bothered too much.

When The Hobbit finally did start what puzzled me even more was the fact that the print hardly seemed to be even 3D to begin with! The entire picture was fuzzy and blurred with a very slight visible difference between having the glasses on and the glasses off. Thinking that my glasses might be faulty, I asked my friends who had accompanied me and they all gave me the same feedback. The Hobbit is not a low budget movie and coming from the stable of internationally known production houses, I doubt that the films original print is to blame. What we thus concluded was that either the glasses were not compatible with the movie print and the theatre decided to simply go ahead with what they had or the theatres projector was malfunctioning. Whatever be the problem, the experience was horrible and if the 3D effect of the movie is not right, then the movie can never be enjoyable.

My next visit to Fun Republic was on 25th December to watch the movie Life of Pi. Once again a 3D movie, I decided to give Fun Republic a second chance. The first unhappy experience was at the ticket counter itself with the attendant being very rude and making numerous blunders while giving people change. At least 4 people came back to him (including me) because he gave the wrong sum of money. Instead of apologising for the repeated error, he seemed to be ignorant and snapped back at customers. 

Once in the theatre, my scepticism about the quality of the 3D print was eradicated and the crystal clear clarity was awesome, yet the glasses were still very dirty and my mum who accompanied me was the first to complain about it. With the credits being displayed at the start of the movie, it was very clear that the print was going out of the screen with names of the cast crew getting cut by a huge margin.There was no obvious way to know if that was rectified as the movie went along, but I seriously doubt it.

The second instance that caused inconvenience was the interval. Hollywood movies do not typically have a provision for an interval in their print but since the Indian audience needs it, theatres abruptly cut the film mid-way an announce a 10-15 minute break. The problem is not the interval itself but the duration of the interval and what happened soon after. A long, extended and annoying interval later the cameraman seemed to have lost exactly where the print had stopped and a good 5 minutes were wasted with audience shouting at the person to go back and forth and arrive at exactly where it had stopped.

Issue Summary:
1. Horrible 3D print during The Hobbit
2. Dirty 3D glasses with stains all over them. This was experienced in both the visits and has been present in the past also
3. Print was going out of the screen during Life of Pi
4. The interval was for beyond the promised 15 minutes
5. The projector operator forgot where to resume the movie from after the interval

With their consistent filthy 3D glasses, I would now be tempted to go elsewhere for a movie if the price difference is not very big. The screen clarity and going off the screen can be attributed to one time problems but the theatre management still needs to put in some effort to ensure that this does not happen. Staff seems to be careless and laid back but I cant actually blame Fun Republic for it, this attitude seems to remain consistent across the industry. The theatre should not exploit customers with shoddy service and if repeated unhygienic 3D glasses are continued to be distributed, Fun may find itself in a tight spot.

Share any of your cinemas and theatre experiences in the comments section below.

1 comment:

  1. i have been watching movies in fun cinemas since years and love to watch it but recently their show timings and the time movie begins is totally different. they are 15-20 min late in beginning the movie and then interval stretch also increases. after experiencing these things 3 times i still thought about giving one more chance. the show timings were not available any where on internet so i called them up. they answered my call and asked my query. When i told them my query the phone was kept on hold for extreme long time. i called on their second number , again i told them my query they told me to wait a minute and kept on hold. after 10 minutes other guy came on phone he again asked me and i told him again. Same thing went on with 3 different guys .

    to summarize :
    horrible customer service. its not the same good cinema any more.