Plex chains share space

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By SAURAV BORA
  • Published 24.11.14
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Guwahati, Nov. 23: A heady concoction of “the best in business” technology and “value-added” luxury awaits film buffs here as multiplex majors PVR Cinemas and Cinepolis look to share prime space in the gateway to the Northeast.

While PVR, India’s largest movie chain, is opening as many as eight screens, with two of them coming up by January, Mexican multiplex major Cinepolis is readying a four-screen property at an upcoming mall on GS Road here.

“We already have a four-screen property under advanced stages of construction at Central Mall. They should be ready by the middle of 2015,” Cinepolis India managing director Javier Sotomayor told The Telegraph.

Cinepolis, which currently operates 110 screens across 16 cities in India, has set an ambitious target of opening 400 screens in 40 cities by 2017.

“There is no geographical discrimination as far as our growth strategy is concerned. These 40 cities are spread out across all regions, including the Northeast. We are always open to evaluate the option of setting up a cinema in a location which makes economic sense,” Sotomayor said.

The company spends Rs 2-Rs 2.5 crore for each screen.

PVR Cinemas will be the first to get off the block with two screens in the space that used to house Cinemax. PVR had acquired a majority stake in the shares of Cinemax in November 2012. “We will be opening two screens of 250 seats each at Dona Planet by January, while the six screens at City Centre should be ready by 2016,” an official of PVR Cinemas here said.

The district administration had stopped screening of films at Cinemax over lack of parking space in October last year.

“We are sorting out the parking issue and also arranged for an additional site where a shuttle service would be placed,” the PVR official said.

In the past seven years, multiplexes have grown substantially in the country and the number of screens has almost doubled. The top five chains alone have more than 1,200 screens.

Customer service is a key area for the multiplex majors.

“Cinepolis believes in providing the best cinema experience. This is our USP and it is a culmination of superior projection and sound technologies, tie-up with RealD 3D, the best 3D system, and layouts that provide the best legroom and stadium-style seating. We also offer a variety of food/beverage and ticketing options,” Sotomayor said.

PVR, which promises a bouquet of value-added services to its customers, has opened ticket counters on the ground floor of the mall. “That’s in addition to phone and e-booking. The pricing will be competitive,” the official said.

The theatre chains consider the region a potential destination for upscale multiplexes. That’s despite the lack of a “multiplex culture” in states like Manipur (where Hindi films are banned), Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh (which does not have a functional hall).

“The Northeast has a lower screen penetration which provides the right opportunity. The contribution from Hollywood and regional movies is growing. Further, because of the high literacy rate and an open culture, film viewing will catch up once multiplexes open,” Sotomayor said.

“However, the small footprint of quality malls is a big challenge for the growth of multiplexes,” he added.

Regional cinema, too, will get a much-needed boost, once the Mumbai-based Gold Digital Cinema comes up with about 15 mini (200 seats) halls in Assam by 2016. Gold, which has three halls here, plans to add another eight in the state next year.

“The halls at Biswanath Chariali, Tezpur and Chaygaon are ready and will be operational once the legal formalities are over. By 2015-end, five more would be made operational,” said an official of Gold Digital Cinema (Northeast).

It’s time to recline with cheese popcorn and watch the latest films, folks!