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INOX CEO sees FY23 to be one of the best-performing years for the film industry

Content is the biggest hero and that will pull in the crowds, Alok Tandon said. The multiplex operator is weighing in on food sales to boost numbers. Advertisements will look up soon, added the CEO.

August 04, 2022 / 08:21 PM IST
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Multiplex operator INOX, which reported its Q1 FY23 results recently, is betting big on this financial year, especially due to the upcoming content line-up.

Going forward, starting with Bullet Train, Raksha Bandhan, Laal Singh Chaddha, and Telugu movie Liger, which is also made in Hindi, there are a number of movies for which footfalls will be great, said the company's top official.

"The content line-up looks great. COVID is past us. I think, this year could be one of the best years for the film industry," Alok Tandon, CEO, INOX Leisure Limited, told Moneycontrol.

The company, earlier this year, had announced merger with multiplex player PVR. The merger has received approval from the BSE and the NSE. Tandon said that they have made an application to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for the merger, which will take a couple of months.

Growth momentum to continue

He said they are certain that the positive momentum created in the first quarter will be carried forward in the second quarter on the back of major blockbuster releases.

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"The second quarter of FY23 looks promising with tentpoles like Brahmastra, and Vikram Vedha, besides a slew of content-driven small budget movies, which might just spring a surprise. On the English front, we have movies like the Bullet Train, Nope, Don’t Worry Darling, and Ticket to Paradise. Starting from Liger, Cobra, PS1 and Ravanasura, movies from other Indian languages will also provide a boost to box-office collections in Q2," he added.

Between August and September, four multi-starrer Hindi films and seven regional films, including Punjabi movies and content from down south, will release in theatres.

Bollywood backlash

However, some of the Hindi films in July saw dismal performance at the box office, including big-budget, multi-starrer movie Shamshera, featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt. "One month not doing well or a few movies not doing well doesn't mean that the entire pipeline is bad. It is just a blip. Cannot write off the magic of the Hindi film market. In any sector, there are times when things don't work. I think, the Hindi film industry will bounce back," said Tandon.

While exhibitors are betting big on Bollywood's content line-up, some of the films are facing flak on social media. Currently, micro-blogging site Twitter is abuzz with #boycottlaalsinghchadha and #boycottrakshabandhan. The two films will clash at the box office with both releasing on August 11.

Tandon said that the chatter on social media on boycotting certain films is not likely to have an impact on box office if content is strong. "I don't think it will affect (box office numbers). If a movie is good, chatter does not matter. Content is the biggest hero and that will pull in the crowds," he added.

Other growth metrics

Counting on the upcoming content, INOX is also focusing on screen additions and plans to open 77 screens this year. In addition, the multiplex chain has signed 117 properties, and 834 screens beyond FY23. "Once the entire pipeline is fully implemented, we will have 293 properties and nearly 1,600 screens," he said. The company, in Q1, opened 17 screens. Going forward, its run rate will be 80-100 screens year-on-year (YoY).

The company is also focusing on increasing its spend per head (SPH), which in Q1 FY23 increased to Rs 96 from Rs 81 in Q1 FY20, a 19 percent growth.

"There is a cautious effort to increase our pay per head. We are selling more items per head, more people are coming to the concession counter to buy food. And this is also because of more touch points. Earlier, we had one big concession counter, today we are moving away from that," the CEO said.

The company is looking to increase the SPH by 8-10 percent YoY.

"We are pressing the peddle hard where food is concerned and ensuring that there are more points of sales. This will help us in increasing the strike rate and increasing the items per head," he added.

Food and beverage (F&B) revenue in the quarter gone by increased to Rs 164 crore compared to Rs 132 crore in Q1 FY20.

Ad spends to bounce back

While cinema advertising remains the only segment that is not yet back to pre-COVID levels, Tandon thinks that it will see recovery in the next few quarters.

"Q1 and Q2 will be depressed, but in Q3 and Q4 we will bounce back. Come festive season, we will be back to normalcy. FMCG, BFSI, telecom, handsets are advertising with us. We are also seeing new-age clients like fintechs, Byju's, RedBus, Cardekho, Pristine (coming to advertise). We have seen clients who have never advertised with us coming to INOX," said Tandon.

Cinema advertising remains 36 percent lower than pre-COVID level. In Q1 FY20, advertising revenue was at Rs 47 crore, up from Rs 30 crore in Q1 FY23.

But Tandon said that this segment will experience recovery soon, as interest levels among the advertisers are back.
Maryam Farooqui
first published: Aug 4, 2022 08:21 pm
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