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Cinépolis is betting big on megaplexes. The Mexico-based multiplex operator has tied up with Vivacity to open a 14-screen megaplex — the country's largest so far — in Mumbai’s Thane. Vivacity, developed by Sheth Developers, would be spread over 25,000 square feet carpet area and house big brands like Shopper’s Stop and as anchor tenants, along with several mini-anchors and 150 shops.

Cinépolis India is a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of the Mexican movie theatre chain, boasting over 2,500 screens across the globe. The chain entered India in 2007 with a humble four-screen multiplex in Amritsar. With an investment of Rs 30-40 crore in the Thane property, Cinépolis is now aiming bigger.

“Other than the first mover advantage in the megaplex category, we will also offer more choices. With 14 screens, not only will a viewer have more options but a movie can run for a longer duration”, says Deepak Marda, joint managing director, Cinépolis India.

“Cinépolis programmes in higher occupancy levels. Also as a global leader in the multiplex space, it has technological knowledge and design which gives them an upper hand over the established operators in India”, says J P Biswas, VP Leasing & Marketing, Sheth Developers.

PVR, one of the big names in movie viewing, has no problem with such plans. “It basically shows that there is an increased level of interest in the market. As it is the country is too large for one company to penetrate,” points out Pramod Arora, Group President, PVR. holds 13 per cent market share and plans to increase its presence, including in multiplexes and plexes for luxury movie watching. However, Arora adds that PVR would prefer to have just normal multiplexes with higher occupancy.

Cinemax, which currently has 15 per cent market share, does not think the megaplex model will work in India. Sunil Punjabi, CEO, Cinemax, maintains, “are made for patrons that consume movies which are in the third or fourth week. Alternate content is another stream which is fed on megaplexes. India is a different market and almost 90 per cent of the revenues are based on regional content. The life of Hindi content is not very long. Hence, the demand for such movies would be low. But in case of markets where regional content is strong especially southern India, larger screens are valid. We believe in such markets, a multiplex with seven-eight screens is ideal.”

Though the Cinepolis megaplex will be distant from the huge movie-going population in places such as South Mumbai, Marda is confident that the cosmopolitan crowd will give them enough customers.

He points out, “MNCs have opened their offices in Thane. And many Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati etc population have shifted to near-by areas. We think there is huge potential.”

To cater to these same people, Cinépolis plans to show regional movies along with the popular Bollywood and Hollywood movies in the megaplex. With a seating capacity of 100-350 odd seats per theatre, it is still a huge target. The megaplex plans to squeeze in as many as 70 shows in a day, thereby offering flexibility in choice of film titles and show timings.

That’s not all. To make the movie-watching experience even better, Cinépolis will be launching Cinépolis VIP, a luxury movie viewing experience. The expansive lobbies, recliners for watching movies, personalised service, live kitchen for gourmet foods, a less-crowded theatre will come at a price as the ticket prices will be two-three times more than the regular cost. Then there will be Club Cine whereby viewers will get to choose his own seating and cuisine.

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