It's being billed as the next level in multiplexing — luxury lounges in cineplexes being repositioned as party hubs for the crème de la crème.
"Entertaining in luxurious environments is an evolving mantra for any service industry," says Ajay Bijli, chief executive and managing director, PVR Cinemas.
PVR's 36-seat Gold Class audi in Noida offers facilities for private parties. "It can be clubbed with a movie on demand," says Bijli. The damages? Rs 500 a head or more, depending on what's on menu.
Bijli sticks to the 'no booze served' policy "since cinema is a family experience", but others scrambling for liquor licence. Adlabs, in fact, already has it. At Adlabs Ebony Lounge you can have your cake and swig a few pegs too while watching your chosen movie for Rs 500 (per head) or more. The chain also offers beer and popcorn shows for corporate houses. A third innovation, Baby Bliss, offers babysitting option for children while parents enjoy a film. "Content evolvement is the key to survival in any industry," says Tushar Dhingra, Adlabs chief operating officer.
It's this 'evolvement' that the Inox chain, which operates in Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune and Vadodara, has in mind with the creation of deluxe multiplexes for premium clients with Rs 250 tickets. "Everyone seems to be in a mood to party at the movies," says Saurabh Verma, vice president (programming and distribution), Inox. The chain has hosted kiddie birthday parties with special shows of Happy Feet. Dhoom 2 is in demand at corporate and college events, while a charity function over food and drinks saw the screening of Babul.
Other players are also jumping in. Gurgaon-based DT Cinemas plans to set up luxury lounges in upcoming South Delhi properties as Vasant Kunj and Saket.
"It's an alternative to routine club partying," says Kajal Aijaz, CEO and director, DT Cinemas.
Client lists in Delhi and Mumbai reportedly include the Ambanis, Munjals, Mittals, Nandas and Goenkas. Recently, Sachin Tendulkar threw a private party at Mumbai's Andheri Cinemax. "It's a premium experience for people ready to pay premium prices," says Bijli.
Rajeev Gupta, CEO, Wave Cinemas, isn't biting the bait, though. "Cinema is our primary business, and we have never seriously given this aspect a thought. I guess such gimmicks are needed only when you can't sell tickets, particularly high-end seats."
Sanjay Bhat, vice president (marketing), M2K, has a different take: "We don't offer movie-party combos yet. But hosting kitty parties and student-related activities at our properties always augments footfalls and ticket sales." The bottom line? If there is an added hook to movie-watching, more people will drop in.