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Multiplexes go the luxury way to be there

Popcorn is not enough. After changing the way you saw movies, multiplexes are changing themselves, too – adding fancy frills to remain in the race, reports Ruchi Hajela.

business Updated: Nov 22, 2007 22:10 IST
Ruchi Hajela

Popcorn is not enough. After changing the way you saw movies, multiplexes are changing themselves, too – adding fancy frills to keep their edge in a competitive business that is getting crowded.



Here is what to expect: 180-degree seats on which you can lie flat on your back, a butler at the press of a button, meals at the seat and lounges for dining and relaxation. Or happy-hour discounts.



At the other end, new exhibition chains like Pyramid Saimira and Zee group's Fun Republic that use cheaper digital technologies are taking over sleepy single-screen theatres in small towns.



PVR Limited, the company that pioneered the multiplex boom in the country, launched on Thursday its PVR Premiere brand that will have a Gold Class and premier class auditoriums.



PVR has plans to invest Rs 400 crore over the next three years to set up 250 screens of which 10 per cent will be for 40 Premiere screens across Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata.



The cost of setting up one PVR Premiere multiplex in New Delhi's Saket area has cost the company Rs 24 crore.



Gold Class has reclining chairs and a personalised menu that can cost between Rs 500 to Rs 750 per head.



Morning shows are usually cheaper and weekend tickets cost higher. On the other hand, a premier class ticket with more legroom and arrangements to help the physically disabled can cost anywhere between Rs 120 to Rs 150, somewhat above the Rs 90 to Rs 125 that a regular PVR cinema ticket costs.



"The difference in a PVR Cinema and a PVR Premiere is not as much in terms of cost as much as in the experience," Ajay Bijli, Managing Director, PVR Limited, told

Hindustan Times

.



Mumbai-based Shringar Cinemas has a venture that owns 44 screens, 41 of them in multiplexes. It had set up its Gold Class auditoriums two years back with reclining chairs, dry cleaned blankets and butler services with a ticket usually costing between Rs 230 and Rs 250.



"The rates are usually higher whenever there is a big release. For instance, on the opening weekend of

Om Shanti Om

our tickets were priced at Rs 500 and we even introduced a morning show for 7.55 am with Rs 55 per ticket," said Shunali Shroff, head of communications at Shringar.



Companies like PVR and Shringar have been taking over single screens and converting them into multiplexes or fancier screens. "Single screen cinemas are here for the next five years at least after that they may begin to fade out," Bijli said.



But companies like Zee group's E-City Digital, which use low-cost digital storage, are spreading into small towns.



"I believe the number of single screens will increase with digital technology like E-Cinema that allows one to distribute the same movie at 20 per cent of the cost with better quality offered by the old day celluloid cinema," Chandresh Daftary, Vice Presdient, E-City Digital told

Hindustan Times

.



E-City plans to increase the number of digital screens from the existing 102 to 300 by the end of next financial year.