In an effort to cash in on the craze for Bollywood films among the South Asia diaspora, which is estimated to be nearly four million in the US, Big Cinemas has acquired 188 screens in the country and is planning to expand further.
In little over a year, Big Cinemas has acquired a chain of 188 screens in more than two dozen cities in the US, covering almost all the major centres of South Asian population from Manhattan and Edison in East Coast to Los Angeles and San Jose in California and Chicago in the Midwest.
By the end of the year, it plans to acquire 250 screens across the US and expand to new centres of South Asian population such as Florida and Texas, says Anil Arjun, CEO of Reliance Media Works.
BIG Cinemas is a division of Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Media Works and a member of Reliance ADA Group.
The company now accounts for 20-35 per cent of Hindi features box office collections and over 70 per cent of Tamil and Telegu box office collections from the US.
Noting that North America is an attractive market for Indian films (Hindi, Tamil and Telugu) with nearly four million south Asians with strong affinity to Indian films, Arjun said film distribution in the US has been highly fragmented and disorganised.
"Limited number of prints, inadequate marketing and promotion and exhibition in screens that are inadequate in terms of quality of ambience," he said.
This previously meant that the penetration of a movie in terms of admits vis-a-vis the Indian population was under nine per cent, he said.