Multiplexes struggle to fill void after showbiz ravaged

He said that the first and second wave of Covid had sounded the death knell for 2,000 single screens across India and multiplexes would be able to add a maximum of 500 new screens by the end of 2022-23.

He added that PVR, Inox, Cinepolis and Mirage are planning to add 70-100 screens during this financial year, but expansion is expected to slow over the next few years.

According to analysts, multiplexes signed up many properties before the Covid outbreak and new screens will not fill the void left by single screens in smaller cities.

New properties for the multiplex premium segment are likely to add 35-40%, to cater to higher income groups, he said.

“All cinema operators are looking to open new properties which they had signed up for and which were ready for fit-out, but got delayed due to the pandemic. So in that sense, the industry can see around 500 new screens in this financial year as compared to 350 annual additions that would be seen in pre-pandemic times,” said Amit Sharma, CEO, Miraj Cinemas.

Despite the challenges of finding a retail space, Miraj is looking to double its screen count in the next 20 months, focusing on South India, especially Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

“Expansion may slow significantly in FY 24-27 as new retail locations will come up after 2023. The film exhibition business is slowly improving,” Sharma said.

While the film industry is emerging from the shadow of the pandemic, exhibition companies are cautiously optimistic, said Pankaj Renzen, chief operating officer and joint managing director, Anarock Retail. “The expansion plans are not as aggressive and the main emphasis is on properties with regular five to six screens instead of big theaters with eight to nine screens,” he added.

India, with around 10 screens per million, was an under-penetrated market even before the pandemic. Cinepolis India CEO Devang Sampath said that with 2,000 screens shut, there is a huge opportunity for all players to grow and compensate for the loss of screens. “Most of the losses were due to the closure of single screens and the main challenge would be to attract this audience back, with the right offerings in terms of price and atmosphere.”

India is a priority market for Cinépolis, and it plans to open around 60 screens in 2022 with an average investment of 3 crore per screen. “We will open more than twice as many screens with a higher overall investment than our five-year average. In addition, we will be adding another 40 screens that will be moved to the fit-out phase during the year – translating to a total of 100 screens in either fit-out or opening by the end of 2022,” added Sampath.

Carnival Cinemas director and chief executive Vishal Sawhney said it was suffering during the pandemic but is now raising funds to meet its liabilities and grow. “We strive to reach more people in tier-three and tier-four markets, as those markets account for 85 percent of our screen portfolio.”

Satwik Lele, Chief Operating Officer, Mukta2 Cinemas said the company is targeting 100 screens and is looking for investments to support its growth plans. Meanwhile, Kanakia Group-owned Cineline India Ltd, which has interest in real estate including hotels, has re-entered the Indian film exhibition business by launching multiplex chain brand Movie Max. Cineline India CEO Ashish Kanakia said that the company currently has presence in North, West and South of India and seeks to provide a platform to showcase regional content to ensure consumer satisfaction.

The planned properties for Delhi, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Vijayawada, Rajendra Singh Jyala, Chief Programming Officer, INOX Leisure Ltd. said, “The advantage is that the single screen and standalone multiplexes that were shut down hardly contribute to the overall business. were giving.” And is targeting 100 screen count for this financial year.

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