People queuing up for cinema tickets at West End Park. PICTURE: Jayaram.

By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter

Moviegoers among the country’s expatriates continue to rue the dearth of cinemas where the ticket prices are affordable.
While Qatar has more than 50 multiplex screens spread over seven locations, many movie buffs feel that unlike in some other GCC states, the country has only a couple of halls that can be called affordable options for expatriates with limited income.
Some of the film lovers said the only halls that fall within their budget are the two screens at West End Park, which cater mainly to South Asian expatriates, screening Bollywood and other Indian films. Two more screens are due to open at the venue.
It is learnt from the operators of some major multiplexes in the country that they generally have little patronage on weekdays. On weekends, the crowds swell significantly, especially when big-ticket blockbusters are screened.
The relatively low patronage on weekdays has prompted some to call for better marketing strategies, as seen in some European cities, where tickets for shows on weekdays are priced lower than those for weekends. Such a model is followed in some Indian cities as well, it is learnt.
“If the operators can offer reduced ticket rates on weekdays, the response would certainly be better,” said an expatriate who moved to Qatar more than a couple of years ago from a neighbouring GCC state.
Sources familiar with the movie industry in the GCC states said some cinemas in the UAE and Oman have successfully experimented with the model of lower ticket rates on weekdays.
When contacted recently, a local cinema operator said their company had plans to introduce a similar marketing strategy so as to boost patronage on weekdays. However, the plans have not materialised until now.
Calling for the introduction of such marketing plans at local screens, a cinema manager said it would not only contribute to improved revenues for companies like theirs, but also provide an opportunity for many people to watch movies in a comfortable environment.