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PVR expects strong recovery from Q4 FY22; launches six new screens ahead of Maharashtra reopening

With two upscale Luxe auditoriums and one viewing room for private screenings, the new multiplex spread across six screens has a seating capacity of 882.

October 20, 2021 / 02:37 PM IST
 
 
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Multiplex operator PVR, which launched a six-screen property called PVR Maison at Jio World Drive in Mumbai ahead of the reopening of movie theatres in Maharashtra, expects a strong pickup in business in the last three months of this financial year.

“Starting from the fourth quarter, there should be a strong revival. Occupancies will be back to normal,” CEO Gautam Dutta told Moneycontrol.

Cinema halls that were among the hardest hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic are to reopen from October 22 in Maharashtra, one of the biggest markets for exhibitors, contributing 25-30 percent to a Hindi film's box office collections.

The state’s cinema exhibition industry lost around Rs 4,800 crore in various lockdowns since March. While the sector is one of the last to restart in Maharashtra, the state’s announcement to let cinemas reopen has set the ball rolling in terms of strong content releases on the big screen, especially from Bollywood.

New screen launches, more expansion on cards

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PVR Maison is a big bet on upcoming Hindi films. With two upscale Luxe auditoriums and one viewing room for private screenings, the new multiplex spread across six screens has a seating capacity of 882. The exhibitor has invested Rs 5 crore to Rs 5.5 crore on each screen. Maison takes the company’s total screen count in the state to 157 across 38 properties.

Dutta said, “We have always been opening about 75-100 odd screens per year and we seem to be on that path. There are many properties where the work is half done that are being reinstated. In the rolling 12-14 months, we should be opening 80-100 screens.”

Screen expansion across the exhibition sector had slowed due to the pandemic. PVR, which has the highest screen count in India currently at 855, saw the lowest addition in FY21 with just 13 new screens. But with theatres reopening in Maharashtra, which accounts for 18 percent of PVR’s screens, the exhibitor is looking at going back to pre-Covid growth numbers.

In addition, the company also has plans to launch a drive-in theatre at Jio World Drive by end of this month.

Dutta said that the drive-in theatre will play 1.5-1.6 show and content offering will be similar to other PVR properties.
All eyes on theatres reopening


The resumption of shows at cinema halls also means moviegoers in Maharashtra will get to see a lot of new content. “From No Time to Die, Venom 2 and Bell Bottom to the upcoming Dune, we have got four to five big films which will release on day one. All states had to wait before they got content but because Mumbai is the last to get on, at least on day one there will be fantastic content to play,” said Dutta.


However, the state government’s standard operating procedures for reopening that disallow food and beverages inside auditoriums is a sore point for exhibitors. “It is detrimental. We are making a representation to understand (why F&B is not allowed inside). We hope this will be cleared up,” said Dutta.


Back to the big screen


While Maharashtra is key for theatres, states that have already allowed theatres to reopen are seeing audiences return in large numbers. “Regional content is largely driving occupancy,” Dutta said.


He added that on the available capacity, occupancy levels in theatres are back to pre-COVID levels. "Punjab and south are slightly higher than pre-pandemic levels," added Dutta.


Bollywood's time to shine


All eyes are on upcoming Bollywood ventures which includes Akshay Kumar-starrer Sooryavanshi on November 5, Ranveer Singh’s 83 releasing this Christmas, Jersey starring Shahid Kapoor on December 31 and John Abraham’s Satyameva Jayate 2 on November 26, among others.

"Sooryavanshi will spear a lot of sentiments. That is the next big film to watch out for which will fire up the north and west markets," said Dutta.
Maryam Farooqui
first published: Oct 20, 2021 02:37 pm

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