Ticket or not, eat fancy gourmets at movie theaters

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on November 13, 2019

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Rohit Shah takes his girlfriend to Inox in Mumbai’s Malad almost every weekend. But neither of the two has any interest in watching movies. For them, the gourmet food offered at the cinema is the only motivation to go to the cinemas.

"Most people don't realise that you can go and eat at the movie theatres like Inox without actually buying a movie ticket. I love the gourmet menu on offer and the ambience. It’s just a different experience,” Shah said.

Sumptuous fare

Movie theatres are no more just about popcorn and samosas. On offer are dishes such as sushi, pizzas, chaat, and pav bhaaji among others. All of these can be enjoyed without buying a movie ticket.

"Our lobbies are also open to people who just walk in, pick up food and walk out. There are a lot of mall owners that encourage this because it increases its footfall. We have this facility available at all our theatres,” Alok Tandon, CEO, Inox Leisure, said.

According to Tandon, it is difficult to find out how much of the F&B revenues are coming from non-movie viewers but it is surely growing. In fact, F&B revenue growth is much higher than the growth in movie business for Inox. About a quarter of the company’s revenues already come from F&B, compared with market leader PVR Cinemas, which earns more than 30 per cent of its revenues from F&B.

Tie-up with celebrity chef

Similarly, Cinépolis recently opened F&B brand Coffee Tree to offer a gourmet menu of delectable food and beverages, offering a plethora of cuisines from Italian to Mexican.

“We have opened up all our lobbies for patrons to walk into any Cinepolis theatre and enjoy the Coffee Tree offerings without having to watch a movie,” Devang Sampat, Deputy CEO, Cinepolis India, said. “We recently partnered with globally acclaimed chef Saransh Goila to launch an all-new menu that is a well-curated blend of mouth-watering, authentic dishes. With over 100 dishes to choose from, this truly elevates the in-theatre experience.”

The collaboration has resulted in the introduction of over 40 new dishes that include signature dishes such as the innovative Nachos Bhel, Seekh Bun and a range of sumptuous Pavs. For desserts, there are a range of new options to choose from, including Nutella Pav and Waffles. For the more health conscious, there is the newly introduced Greek Salad among others.

Inox has even started testing delivery options from its theatres so you could enjoy theatre food at home or office.

“When we opened the multiplex in Atria mall, we used to offer deliveries to some of the guests working in the mall. Even during the World Cup, we were offering home deliveries of popcorn for people to watch the game at home and have our popcorn. We are open to experimentation to offer what guests want,” Tandon said.

Note of caution

But PVR Cinemas is still wary of allowing anyone to walk into theatre lobbies to just have food.

“We started allowing people to walk in to just have food without watching movies in SPI Cinemas, which we acquired. But the response hasn't been good so far,” Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, Joint Managing Director, PVR Ltd, said.

PVR has opened up its food counters to the outside world only in SPI Cinemas so far and has no plans to expand it to its 800-odd screens.

“There are enough places in a mall where you could enjoy a variety of food. Although we have many sub brands in F&B and a vast menu, we don't see us as an alternative to restaurants in the mall,” Bijli said.

Published on November 13, 2019

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