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BW Businessworld

Multiplexes Have Room To Grow In India

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Multiplexes in India have tremendous scope for growth as vast areas of the country are still not covered, film industry experts said at a Businessworld event.
Vijay Kapoor, senior vice president for business development at PVR Limited, believes that India is still an under-screened country compared with places like China and the United States.
"Against the 7,250 screens that we have, China has 23,600 screens and the United States of America has 39,400 screens. We still have a lot to grow, and we have to penetrate into small towns and cities, although there are hurdles and problems," Kapoor said.
But Devang Sampat, business head of strategic initiatives at Cinepolis, said comparing India and China was not right because of the latter's much bigger economy.
"We should not compare our growth with China since their GDP growth is twice compared to India. Content of the movie still drives the business," he said.
They were participating in a session at the "The Fridays - BW | Businessworld Cinema Exhibition Awards & Conference" in Mumbai.
The discussion focused on the financial impact of multiplexes and whether their presence was eroding the influence of single screen theatres.
Noted film journalist and critic Komal Nahta said there is a feeling that the growth of multiplexes has sidelined single-screen theatres. He said when the multiplex culture started in India, people were sceptical about its future in India.
Their growing influence is also directing the content of movies, a popular form of entertainment across India.
"Since multiplexes are prevalent more in urban areas, many times single screens owners feel that the story and content by writers, and the type of movies made cater only to that particular (urban) section. Hence, they feel left out," Nahta said.
P.V. Sunil, CEO of Carnival Cinemas, noted that revenues of multiplexes depend on many factors and not just on ticket sales.
"There was a time when only box-office mattered. Now since the content and the audience response is not certain, we have to depend upon food and beverage and advertisements," Sunil said.
Multiplexes are also being seen as providing better experience to moviegoers, thus increasing Bollywood's audiences.
In this scenario, popcorn is being seen as a significant revenue contributor.
"Popcorn is in many sense bigger than the Khans in Mumbai", Prof Bharathan Kandaswamy, course director at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad,  said referring to Bollywood's leading stars Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan.