After a pale year in 2020, multiplex operators have begun focusing on screen expansion plans. One such player is PVR that inaugurated nine new screens on March 5.
PVR has introduced three new screens in Kanpur by glorifying the existing property called Deep Cinemas, which will accommodate 583 audiences.
With this addition, PVR now has 83 screens across 18 properties in Uttar Pradesh and 261 screens and 60 properties in Northern India.
Along with Kanpur, PVR launched a six-screen multiplex in Mysuru, which can accommodate 1,078 audiences. PVR has 109 screens in 16 properties in Karnataka and 292 screens across 47 properties in the South.
PVR has a total of 844 screens at 177 properties in 71 cities, including India and Sri Lanka.
Talking to Moneycontrol, Pramod Arora, Chief Growth & Strategy Officer, PVR Ltd, said they had time to think of a strategy last year for screen expansion. “We were thinking how single screens that are lying defunct how they can be upgraded. PVR’s first property in Delhi was also converted from an existing cinema. Kanpur (Deep Cinemas) is an example of how you can convert a dud asset into a huge monetizing ability. And this sort of opportunity lies across the country where many real asset properties are lying waste. Now they can be rechristened to brand new development. Plus, these are already landmark properties, so the audience knows them.”
So, it is the developer who is investing the money in refurbishing the cinemas. Against that, PVR has raised revenue share between them and the developers.
“We believe in asset light model which now is becoming asset lighter,” added Arora.
When it comes to markets, Arora said that the skew for this year in terms of screen additions would be 60 percent B&C towns and 40 percent A towns. “This skew will be more towards B&C in the coming years. B&C towns have been sitting dud for so many years. So, they will get traction now. There is money in these territories, there are consumers in these territories but no infrastructure,” he said.
Overall, for FY 2020-21, PVR has plans to launch 30 new screens. By next financial year, the company expects to reach pre-pandemic patterns in terms of screen expansion which used to be around 40 or more screens every year.
Furthermore, the company had launched 87 screens in FY 2019-20.
Additionally, This year, around 50 to 60 Bollywood films are likely to release in theatres.
Moreover, many states have permitted theatres to run at full capacity, including West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, among others. PVR has a presence in 17 states. It is operating at 100 percent capacity in 13 states and four union territories.
This is why Arora is expecting the exhibition business to go back to normal.
Nevertheless, there are specific concerns, one of them being the surge in Maharashtra cases, a crucial territory for cinemas. It contributes 26 percent to the overall box office collections of Hindi films.