Bollywood struggles to fill seats in India's cinemas

STORY: A Bollywood A-lister in a remake of an American classic - Forrest Gump.

It's the magic formula meant to conjure up long queues at the cinema here in India, home to one of the most prolific movie industries in the world.

But an empty theatre in the capital New Delhi tells a different story.

And it's not just because it was a weekday.

Local box office collections have been falling every month since March.

Now research firm Elara Capital is expecting the worst quarter performance in five years, from July to September.

Though actors here have danced their way to the bank, Bollywood is now having a hard time keeping in step - with online streaming giants.

Price may be one answer why, while cost-of-living soars here like the rest of the world.

In India, a Netflix subscription will set you back $2 and 50 cents a month.

While the cheapest ticket at one cinema operator in New Delhi's city center recently went for $3.89.

One data firm suggested up to a quarter of India's population of 1.4 billion have some form of on-demand subscription.

And the sheer variety of what people can watch online may have changed audiences' tastes.

Vaishnavi Sharma is a student and film buff.

"Since the past two years the audience has been exposed to so many new themes and they have been introduced to new concepts as well so, that is why I guess Bollywood is lacking in that area and they are not taking films seriously."

Bollywood veteran actor Akshay Kumar saw his latest film tank at the box office.

Last month, he told reporters he wants to buck the trend from the inside out.

“See, films are not working, it is our fault, it is my fault, okay? I have to make the changes. I have to understand what the audience wants. I want to do my changes. I want to dismantle my way and the way I think, what kind of films I should do.”

In 2018, 47% of Bollywood's releases were flops, a term meaning they've lost half or more of their investment.

According to one online tracker, of the 26 Bollywood releases this year, the percentage of flops is up to more than three-fourths.

The local remake of Forrest Gump might just be the latest, having only recouped one-fourth of its budget in its first three weeks.