The worst may be over for film exhibitors. After two years in the doldrums, following the Covid-19 pandemic, multiplexes are finding their mojo back as “latent demand” pushes people to go out for the movies. Or so believes INOX Group Director Siddharth Jain.
In conversation with Business Today TV Managing Editor Siddharth Zarabi at the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Jain said, “For the cinema exhibition business, it was an extremely hard two years. But luckily, we survived. We found investors, we had to dilute our shares… It was one of the reasons the two of us [INOX and PVR] came together. And we are super excited about the next capex cycle that is about to begin now.”
The PVR-INOX merger is expected to be completed in February, making the combined entity India’s largest multiplex operator with 1,600+ screens across 80 cities. “We have an additional 1,600 screens signed for opening in the next few years. On an average, we put up 200-300 screens per year. It will go hand-in-hand with mall development in India,” Jain reveals.
A majority of INOX footfalls comes from Tier 2 towns, and it expects the next phase of growth to come from those regions. “We are present in more than 80 cities and we definitely see the pattern of consumption around the country. There is a latent demand, and the consumer is raring to experience all these things,” Jain shares.
But what about competition from OTT? How are multiplexes measuring up to that challenge?
Jain explains, “Cinema and digital screens are complementary in nature. As consumers, we have just started watching more content- online and offline. Cinema is a community-watching experience. 85 per cent of our consumers are between 16 and 34. It’s the young population that is coming to cinemas, and wants to experience movie watching in a community.”
Is popcorn going to become affordable though? “It’s all demand and supply. If we get feedback that the pricing is too high, we can roll it back. It’s a continuous process,” Jain said.
However, he also pointed out that multiplexes price popcorn based on the economic climate. “All input costs from electricity to manpower to rentals are increasing because of inflation. So, you have to cover those costs in some manner,” the INOX boss added.
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