West Bengal is expected to see at least five new multiplexes in 2009 for an investment of over Rs 200 crore.
While 2008 saw inauguration of two multiplexes in Kolkata - Fame at South City mall and Cinemax at the Mani Square mall - multiplex owners have pinned hopes on prompt delivery of shopping malls so that the respective multiplexes could open in time too.
For one, Fun Cinemas, the Essel Group-managed multiplex chain, will foray into eastern India in 2009.
According to Vishal Kapur, COO, Fun Multiplex, “We are planning to set up close to 40 screens over the next three years in Eastern India with our brands Fun Cinemas and Talkie Town. Fun Cinemas is positioned as a lifestyle brand and Talkie Town a value brand with ticket prices at 50 per cent cheaper than Fun Cinemas. We will invest around Rs 1 to 1.5 crore per property in this expansion. Areas like Durgapur, Howrah and Asansol have been identified where Talkie Town would be functional in the next one year.”
Fun has signed on two properties in Kolkata, in Axis Mall and Lake Mall. Each property will be a 5-screen, 1200-seater multiplex.
Talkie Town will look at acquiring some of the standalone dilapidated theatres and rebrand them into either a 4-screen plex or a standalone theatre.
Currently the company has 10 Talkie Town in the country which are all revamped models of dilapidated standalone theatres.
“We are looking at standalone properties in Kolkata for acquiring and rebranding them as Talkie Town but most properties in the city are rather small. Our smallest Talkie Town is a 200-seater, while the largest is around 1200-seater. We would therefore look at smaller cities for setting up the Talkie Town brand, in places like Durgapur, Howrah, Asansol, Jharkhand, among others,” Kapur explained.
Currently the company operates 63 screens in 20 locations in India.
Cinemax is planning two more properties in Kolkata, one in a shopping mall in Salt Lake.
“We have also bought over the Hind cinema hall in Central Kolkata where another Cinemax will come up. Depending on how promptly the shopping malls are completed, we expect the new Cinemax multiplexes to start in 2009,” Devang Sampat, VP-marketing and programming of Cinemax, said.
Cinemax inaugurated its first multiplex in Kolkata’s Mani Square mall in 2008 which witnessed 12,000 walk-ins in the first five days.
According to Alok Tandon – COO, Inox Leisure, “East India is top-most on Inox’s expansion map and by 2010 we aim to have 19 multiplexes and 71 screens in the East. Apart from properties in Kolkata like Rajarhat (City Centre-2), Jessore Road, Panditya Road, Howrah etc, multiplexes in Siliguri, Kharagpur, Asansol, Haldia, Guwahati are also in the anvil which will strengthen our foothold in Tier-II cities. On an average we spend between Rs 2- 2.5 crore per screen.” Currently Inox has six multiplexes in West Bengal with 22 screens.
According to a spokesperson of Big Cinemas, “We inaugurated one major cinema at RDB Mall in Kolkata, 36 cinemas and 71 screens across India. Our expansion rate has been growing at 300 per cent on a year on year basis. At the moment we have one multiplex in Kolkata with three screens. It would not be possible to reveal details until they are formalised.”
For most multiplex chains, 2009 is expected to see more big-ticket releases, compared to 2008, which was a lack-lustre year for Bollywood till December, when releases like ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ and ‘Ghajini’ set the cash registers ringing again.
For 2008, most multiplexes are of the opinion that poor content in the beginning of the year has hit box office earnings for this year, resulting in 10-15 per cent less occupancy levels throughout the year compared to 2007.
However, business did not see a dip as prices of movie tickets, food and beverages were hiked by 10-15 per cent in most multiplexes during the year.
According to a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Hindi film industry is around Rs 11,000 crore and is projected to reach Rs 17,500 crore by 2012. While domestic box office collections account for Rs 8,250 crore, overseas box office collections is around Rs 1,000 crore. Home video makes up around Rs 750 crore.