The multiplex operator will also screen new Hollywood movies on current ticket prices.
Even as PVR is all set to reopen its gates that were shut for seven months due to the coronavirus-led lockdown, India's largest multiplex operator faces multiple challenges to woo viewers back to its screens.
One of the biggest is new content for theatrical release. Producers are not ready to release new films as theatres in major markets like Mumbai and Delhi remain shut.
This is why PVR is planning film festivals, and will also be releasing films that had a strong run at the box office last year, said Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Cinemas.
While Dutta did not name the movies they plan to play on reopening, films like Tiger Shroff-starrer Baaghi 3 could be the first to feature in theatres.
Along with old content, PVR has in its portfolio nine new Hollywood films, thanks to its distribution arm PVR Pictures.
In June this year, PVR had announced the list of new Hollywood films that are ready for release in theatres as soon as they reopen.
The nine new Hollywood titles include My Spy, The Last Full Measure, Ordinary Love, Countdown, The Farewell, The Wild Goose Chase, The Personal History of David Copperfield, The True History of Kelly Gang & Mr. Jones.
However, Dutta did not share any release dates for the Hollywood ventures.
Will older films bring audiences back to theatres?
Running old content is worrying exhibitors, but they believe it is better to reopen with old movies than continue to remain shut.
To bring back audiences, PVR is slashing ticket prices on old content.
“All new content will play on pre-COVID rates. But all the old films will play at hugely discounted rates of about Rs 99 across the board. The Gold class tickets will go down to Rs 300-350,” Dutta told Moneycontrol.
The Gold class comes under PVR's premium screen category. The average movie ticket price in PVR is Rs 207, and for Gold class tickets one had to shell out around Rs 500.
“We have launched a gift card on which there is 30 percent off. So, a PVR gift card worth Rs 5,000 will be available for Rs 3,500. We will be dolling out a lot of benefits and cheap tickets to our privilege members. We have got 11 million privilege members and 50% of our business comes through them.
We have got Kotak credit card which is an exclusive PVR-Kotak card called entertainment card and we have a strong audience there as well. And these are high net-worth individuals,” he added.
Are there new films ready for theatrical release?
Along with Hollywood offerings that PVR Pictures has in its content portfolio, new Hollywood ventures like Tenet, No Time to Die, Wonder Woman are ready for theatrical release.
As for Bollywood, many films from Yash Raj Films (YRF) are ready for release in theatres including Jayeshbhai Jordar starring Ranveer Singh, and Bunty aur Babli 2.
According to Dutta, films like Bunty aur Babli 2, Jayeshbhai Jordaar, Sandeep aur Pinky Faraar will be the first ones off the block.
Plus, big ventures like Akshay Kumar's Sooryavanshi and Ranveer Singh-starrer 83 are also waiting to be released in theatres.
Delays in release a cause of concern
However, it is unlikely that Sooryavanshi will release this Diwali, and may be pushed to January next year on Republic Day.
According to Shibashish Sarkar, CEO, Reliance Entertainment, a Diwali release for Sooryavanshi seems unlikely because theatres in Mumbai and Delhi may only open in November, leaving only limited time for marketing for a Diwali release.
Plus, 83 is slated for release during Christmas holidays this year. Hence, the release of Sooryavanshi will be postponed to next year, he added.
Reliance Entertainment is co-distributing both Sooryavanshi and 83.
Postponement of new movie releases is worrying exhibitors across the globe. In fact, the postponement by the makers of the much-awaited Daniel Craig starrer No Time to Die to next year has become a cause of concern for many exhibitors.
The 25th instalment in the James Bond franchise, touted to be Craig's last outing as the fictional British masterspy, was earlier slated for release in November this year.
Cineworld, the second-biggest theatre chain in the world will be shutting down its UK and US theatres this week due to a dearth of new content. The move comes after the release date of No Time to Die was moved from November this year to April 2, 2021.
Even Marvel's Black Widow will now release next year in May, instead of November this year.
These new changes in release schedules is the reason why Cineworld will be shutting 536 Regal theatres in the US and 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK from October 8.
Old is gold, or is it?
Even in India, new movies will not be released anytime soon then, be it Bollywood or Hollywood films.
In fact, makers of Hollywood venture Tenet are waiting for theatres to reopen in major markets like Mumbai and Delhi. Theatres will remain shut in Mumbai and Delhi until the end of October.
Whether Indian audiences will be back to theatres to watch old content remains uncertain. But old Indian films did find takers abroad when theatres overseas re-released films like Dream Girl, Good Newwz, among others.
For some of the movies, the occupancy was in the range of 10-15 percent and for others it was around 30 percent. Older Indian content was re-released in international markets in June when theatres across the globe were functioning at 30 percent capacity.
PVR is reopening, but not all screens yet
Along with content constraints, staggered reopening is also a challenge for exhibitors.
For now, out of the 21 states PVR is operating in, it has got permission to reopen in about 13-odd states which have about 83 PVR properties. So, PVR will be reopening roughly about 420-odd screens out of the 845 screens, said Dutta.
“The balance screens we should open by end of October or by the first week of November. We are hoping to be up and running by the first week of November pretty much in the entire circuit,” he added.
First Published on Oct 7, 2020 04:49 pm