Organically we add up to 60-70 screens in a year and will continue to expand to reach our next target of 1000 screens by 2020: Gautam Dutta

In an exclusive conversation with Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Cinemas highlights growth plans of the company.
Organically we add up to 60-70 screens in a year and will continue to expand to reach our next targe

How do you see the current market size of cinema exhibition companies in India? How do you see this market will grow in next two years?

In our opinion, there is a huge gap between the demand and the supply. The progress till date has been primarily on the inorganic side, with various cinema companies changing hands of ownership. But, in real terms, the screen count growth has been quite below expectations. If we compare India and China in terms of screen counts it is hard to envisage how this gap can ever be filled. India opened its first multiplex in 1997 and in the past 20 years, we have reached only approx. 2,000 multiplex screens. On the other hand, a country like China adds close to 5,000 screens every year. However, in India, we only add not more than 250 to 300 screens every year. Hence the potential for cinema exhibition companies to grow remains quite high.

Movie-watching in the country is undergoing a dramatic transformation. It’s not just about the film any more. Now, the discerning viewer is looking for an engaging and more evolved movie-watching experience. Hence, we need to constantly innovate and upgrade ourselves with respect to technology, ambience, food and comfort; so as to provide a complete experience. The ability to reinvent, innovate and challenge ourselves to match global standards to exceed customer’s expectations.

As innovators in the realm of cinema, PVR’s philosophy has always been to push the envelope and come up with unique cinematic experiences for its audiences. PVR constantly strives to provide freshness in its offerings through customized F&B, exciting new-age formats such as 4DX, IMAX, Playhouse and carefully segmented sub brands like ICON and Superplex.

Kindly highlight your total screen numbers and formats pan India? How you are looking to expand your footprint?

PVR has a pan India presence with a robust expansion plan to reach metros as well as tier II and tier III cities to provide next- level cinematic experience available to every Indian customer. Presently, we have 569 screens in 123 cinemas across 48 cities. The cinema also boasts about its grand spectrum of cinema formats that includes PVR Heritage, PVR Premier, PVR Gold Class, PVR Director’s Cut and recently added PVR Icon and PVR Superplex.

Our game plan is to be the best out-of-home entertainment destination in the country.  PVR chooses to inculcate a restlessness approach, of killing its thoughts on a daily basis to arrive at something better than yesterday. Our propensity to experiment sometimes leads us to offer concepts “ahead of time”. With this aim, we plan to expand our reach in not just metros but also widening our network in the tier II and III cities where the audiences have not experienced the best of cinematic formats. We have a robust plan on bringing in cutting edge technology, wider food menu options and the best of world class formats accessible to the patrons pan India.

These days’ cinema exhibitions companies have become the integral part of retail real estate establishments like shopping malls. Do you think cinema as the stand -alone entity is no longer a relevant concept in current scenario?

Undeniably cinema exhibition companies have become synonym with the retails spaces like malls. For a developer, a cinema becomes the preferred entertainment attraction in a mall. Having said that we need to understand that stand –alone property have their own charm, importance and the audience. However, today the time poor customers are looking to maximize the leisure time at their disposal by looking at dining, shopping, kid’s entertainment and movie at the same destination. Malls meet this inherent need. A multiplex on the other hand provides wide range of show timings and content for a customer to choose depending upon his convenience and liking.

Apart from footfall, how retail and cinema complement each other? What are the challenges for both in such arrangement?

Cinema and retail spaces complement each other very well. Considering the scenario today, we are seeing a changing trend where there is an increased demand for cinema space within shopping malls. Cinemas are acting as a major footfall magnets for shopping malls. Multiplexes are the new anchors for malls owing its rising penchant for movie watching among masses.  Malls provide for a wide range of fun and shopping options all under one roof whereas on the other hand multiplexes are a major source of entertainment with added advantage that content is not static here which adds to freshness. Therefore both retail and cinema complement each other strongly.

The challenge for both the parties is to reinvent and innovate regularly to sustain interest of users. 

These days cinema is also present as the anchor in malls. Do you think such establishment justifies the movie viewing experience because as an anchor there would be space constraint?

Developers are wary of the fact that building multiplexes in a mall requires space and hence provide the first right of use of larger spaces to cinema exhibition companies. They are fully aware of the fact that accommodating more number of screens in a multiplex provides wider choice of content to the consumer which attracts a constant flow of footfalls. PVR too enters into agreements with only those developers who provide the kind of space that it requires building more screens and introducing newer formats.

Who do you see as your potential competition in the same space?

PVR being the pioneer in the cinema exhibition space in the country, it benchmarks itself with nothing but the best the world has to offer.  We choose to be “Led by the consumer” rather than “Lead the consumer” into imaging the perfect experience. PVR continuously redefines it’s impossible by offering to the customer something which is beyond his expectation. At PVR we believe that you don’t ask the consumer what he deserves, give him something new and let him accept or reject. The onus on the Brand is to continuously ‘Excite and Entertain’ while delivering excellence.

Would you continue to expand via retail establishments only? What is your ideal location for further expansion?

We have adapted both organic and inorganic approach when it comes to expansion. As seen in the past we are expanding via merger and acquisitions along with expanding in the retail establishments. However as stated above, our focus is tier II and III cities and enlarging our footprint in these markets with an organic approach. The central purpose remains the fact that the customer in these cities gets the best of cinematic experience at his door step rather than travelling long distances.

Kindly highlight your innovations to improve cinema watching experience?

Considering innovation is an integral element in any business, PVR’s philosophy has always been to reinvent, innovate and challenge itself to attract audience. At PVR, various aspects of business are customized keeping in mind the changing trends in customer preferences. From bringing innovation in F&B, to redefining the digital space, to introducing exciting new-age formats and concepts like 4DX, IMAX, Dolby Atmos, next generation 3D and recently introduced Vkaoo, PVR is doing all to keep up to the ever evolving tastes and preferences of the movie goer.

At last, kindly mention your growth plans?

We reiterate that we have robust expansion plans in terms of reaching out to wider audiences in India, bringing multiplexes in the remotest city of the country. The company has expanded its reach with an equal penetration in metros as well as in tier II and tier III cities. Organically we typically add up to 60-70 screens in a year and will continue to expand to reach our next target of 1000 screens by 2020.



Gautam Dutta