Screen wars – Multiplex chains plan an invasion of South

Heena Khan Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on November 15, 2017

Multiplex chain

Changing consumption pattern of cinema goers is spurring demand for multiplexes

South India, the last bastion of single screen theatres, may fall soon. An invading army of multiplex operators is looking to change the screen mix in the land of movie buffs.

A FICCI-KPMG report notes that unlike the rest of India, south Indian market continues to be dominated by single screens. Mr. Abirami Ramanathan, President, Tamil Nadu Theatre Association, echoes this. He says, “At present there are practically no multiplexes in Kerala while Andhra Pradesh is slowly catching up.”

Chennai is the exception with 20 multiplexes in the city alone and another 5-6 nearing completion, he says.

But all that could change if you look at the plans of multiplex chains. Right from PVR to Cinepolis to Cinemax to Inox , everyone's looking to expand in the south.

PVR Cinemas plans to open 75 screens in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the next one and half years. Cinepolis is opening 20-30 screens in the southern region by the end of this fiscal year, according to Mr Deepak Marda, Joint Managing Director, Cinepolis India.

Inox too is in the process of opening five screens in Madurai and a few more in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka within the current financial year.

Cinemax is adding one multiplex in Bangalore by the end of this fiscal, one multiplex in Hyderabad in a month's time and another in Chennai in the next six months. Mr Sunil Punjabi, CEO, Cinemax India Ltd says, “Two years back, Southern markets would contribute to only 10 per cent of our revenue. Today it is 25 per cent, slated to grow to 35 per cent by next fiscal.”

Till now, the spread of multiplexes in the south had not happened as there were not enough malls. Mr. Ashesh Jani, Partner, Deloitte Haskins and Sells (Media), explains, “Mall builders so far had concentrated in northern and western India.”

But, as Mr. Pramod Arora, Group President, PVR points out, “Now, the southern market is opening up with several new mall developments and real estate opportunities for multiplexes to expand.”

The changing consumption pattern of cine goers down South is also fuelling the demand for multiplexes. Mr Jani points how the single screen format worked fine for the average movie goer in the south who watched the same regional content many times over. But now aspirations are changing – there are more Hollywood and Bollywood movies being watched.

Even as multiplex chains feel that next phase of growth may come from the south, analysts like Mr. Jehil Thakkar, Head of Media and Entertainment, KPMG, warn about regulatory challenges. “There is a price cap on ticket prices in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Additionally, the strong performance of regional cinema in single screen theatres has not incentivised the government to encourage multiplexes.”

According to a KPMG report, the industry is expected to double the multiplex screens over the next five years, taking the total tally to over 2,200 screens by 2016 to shorten the recovery cycle of cash flows and mitigate the risk of piracy.


Published on April 10, 2012

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