Multiplex chains on overdrive to add screens next financial year

Multiplex chains are on an overdrive to add screens in the next financial

Multiplex chains are on an overdrive to add screens in the next financial year (FY) to boost revenue. It remains one of the few segments that has not been impacted much by the economic slowdown.

Leading multiplex chain owner PVR Cinemas, which opened 83 screens during 2019-20, has now set a target of 120-130 screens for the next FY. “Every three days a screen comes out from PVR. At this rate, we aim to add 120-130 screens every year,” said Pramod Arora, chief growth and strategy officer, PVR.

It now has 841 screens and would end the FY with 858 screens this March. Arora said PVR is careful to only tie up with mall developers that have achieved financial closures for their projects.

By end of March 2021, PVR aims to be a 1,000-screen network across the country. The screen addition may also come in through the inorganic route. “Around 30 screens could get added through a strategically-structured deal,” said Arora.

Multiplexes remain one of the few sectors that continue to deliver a strong performance in the current scenario. In the third quarter of 2019-20 FY, strong content at the theatres led to a 35 per cent growth in box office collections.

“We continue to believe that the multiplex industry is the best placed media segment for growth, driven by traction in content performance. Both PVR and Inox remain key beneficiaries of a flourishing multiplex business, which is one of the proxies on rising urban discretionary consumption spends,” ICICI Direct Securities had said in a report recently.

The cost of adding a screen is around Rs 3-3.5 crore.

In the lines of PVR, multiplex chain operator Inox Leisure readied a pipeline of 1,118 screens and 148 properties. Once this pipeline is fully implemented, Inox would have around 1,656 screens in about 300 properties. Inox saw a footfall increase of 19 per cent for the first nine months of this FY while its occupancies increased to 29 per cent. It is now present across 68 cities with 146 properties and 614 screens. Alok Tandon, CEO of Inox Leisure, had said after the third quarter results that the company tied up to the extent of 1,118 screens in 148 properties and about 188,000 seats. Inox is adding roughly 80 screens per year.

Another multiplex chain operator Cinepolis said it would add around 80 screens in the next FY. “We currently have a screen count of 390,” said Devang Sampat, director, strategic initiatives, Cinepolis India.