After recording a profit of ₹166 crore in the July to September quarter as against a loss of ₹82 crore in the preceding quarter, multiplex chain operator PVR Inox remains bullish for the closing months with Diwali around the corner.

Not only has the company rolled out a new five-screen multiplex at Elan Mercado, Sector 80, NH-8, Gurugram, with more expansion plans on the horizon but it is also hopeful that the incoming lineup of films will continue the growth momentum.

The new cinema marks the launch of the company’s 13th property in the city of Gurugram. With this opening, PVR INOX, which already has 88 screens spread over 22 locations in Haryana, has solidified its position there and is now expanding to 463 screens spread across 103 properties across the northern region of India.

With the property being fairly new and exhibiting only Tejas and 12th Fail, it yielded an underwhelming response. “There are some properties that are very content-driven and it takes a while for them to start performing,” explains Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, executive director of PVR INOX Limited.

He adds, however, that he expects the new cinema to take off around Diwali with Salman Khan’s Tiger 3 slated to release. Until then, the company is keeping a low profile and will begin the PR and marketing machinery more aggressively during the festival.

With Sleeper hits like 12th Fail and The Killers of the Flower Moon doing well, Bijli is betting on the November releases, which include Taylor Swift (secured $100 million in the US), The Marvels, and Tiger 3.

Interestingly, as many as 48.4 million people watched movies in its theatres this year, a 64% surge from a year ago. This pushed the occupancy rate during the quarter to 32.3% compared to 24% in the year-ago period.

For November, Bijli projects the admission numbers to touch a minimum of 1.3 million, which is nearly 25-30% higher than what the exhibitor witnessed in October.

Array of ventures

The company seems to be taking a panoramic path to proliferation as it makes vigorous expansion plans into unchartered territories, increases the group’s screen count, and bets on more non-Hindi films.  

“We have projects opening up in Bombay and Gurgaon (another one), Pune, Ahmedabad, Bangalore – we are strengthening our position in the major cities. Plus, we have smaller town openings like Cuddalore, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Gwalior and others like Patna and Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh,” shares the ED.

On a tentative deadline, the company hopes to open around 100 screens more in the next two quarters. They have already opened 68 screens.

Rationalising the boisterous efforts in the South, he adds the bulk of the majority of their businesses come from the South. The overall screen share in South India is 32%, while the North India screen share is 27%.

According to an Ormax Media report, regional films’ contribution to India’s gross box office was 55% in CY22 in contrast to 41% in CY19. On the other hand, Bollywood movies saw a drop -- 33% in CY22 as compared to 44% in CY19.

Meanwhile, the merger of the PVR and Inox chains concluded in February, has led to several synergies for the company. The line-up of films in December also seems promising, which includes Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Dhunki, Animal, and Tiger 3, among others.

“We've got our eyes on the ball in terms of opening cinemas in the right locations and in the right malls. Once we come in these places, we ensure that we make the right product to capitalise it the best,” says Bijli, while adding that the company is quite gung-ho about the film industry and the kind of films that are coming out in this quarter and Q4.

Going forward, the exhibitor has set its sights on enhancing revenues and reducing costs which are expected to deliver a healthy margin.

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