PVR Cinemas has revamped its four screened multiplex at Mani Square in Kolkata. For the company, eastern India has always been an important market because of its cultural diversity. BE’s Anustup Roy Barman spoke withGautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Ltd., regarding his expectations from the market.
Q. How hasthe Indian cinema watching experience changed in the last twenty years?
A. Movie-watching in the country is undergoing a dramatic transformation. With ambience, technology, food, and comfort, it’s not just about the film any more. Now, the discerning viewer is looking for an engaging and more evolved movie-watching experience. It is becoming an out-of-home entertainment destination. The growing popularity of animated movies and the craze for 3D is giving Bollywood films a run for their money. Regional content is also gaining traction.
Q. What are the main challenges that are being faced by the movie industry?
A. In India, the gap between theatrical release and release on other formats is already very short, and appears to be getting further reduced. This is extremely detrimental for both exhibitors as well as producers. The early symptoms of shift in patron behaviour (due to early release on Pay TV, DVD, PPV/NVOD DTH, On-line VOD and other similar formats) is already visible with the mid-market productions and smaller films feeling the heat of reduced patronage. If these practices continue, the film industry could be negatively impacted.
Q. How do you plan to deal with the problem of piracy?
A. Online piracy has become a huge menace and causes significant losses to all the stakeholders of the film industry. The Multiplex Association ofIndia (MAI) is whole-heartedly committed to make and support all reasonable endeavours against film piracy. MAI supports the recommendations of the Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for display of signs in the lobby area and at the screen entrance to the effect that film recording or recording devices of any kind is a punishable offence. It also supports other moves like making it mandatory for theatres to have CCTV recording of the projection booth or the projection system and preservation of such recordings for a period of 4-5 weeks (instead of 8-12 weeks), since most films have a run of only 1-2 weeks nowadays. It also backs their recommendations of making it mandatory for producers of all digital content to include invisible forensic watermarking and putting a passcode as a key for playing the film received ina hard disk. Another measure to curb online piracy would be implementation of anti-camcording legislation.
Q. How did online streaming and release of new movies affect the theatre owners?
A. The rising mobile internet and increased smartphone penetration have given rise to an alternative screen for media consumption. The out-of-home entertainment and video over the internet are entirely different modes of entertainment. Indian people treatwatching a movie as a celebration and love to share their movie watching memories and moments with friends and family. On the other hand, cinema and retail spaces complement each other very well. Today, the customer is looking to maximize the leisure timeat his disposal by looking at dining, shopping, kid’s entertainment, and movie watching experience at the same destination. Malls meet this inherent need. In the Indian context, I believe online movie watching cannot replace theatre movie experience.
Q. What new technologies are you introducing to pull young crowds?
A. As innovators in the realm of cinema, PVR’s philosophy has always been to push the envelope and come up with unique cinematicexperiences for its audiences. PVR constantly strives to provide freshness in its offerings through customized F&B, exciting new-age formats such as 4DX, IMAX, Playhouse, and carefully segmented sub brands like ICON and Superplex. While the PVR VR loungeallow film buffs to experience a new dimension of entertainment while theywait for their film to begin, Vkaao- an online platform enables consumers to watch any movie of their choice at a theatre of their choice.
Q. How do you deal with the new government rule regarding the national anthem?
A. PVR Cinemas is totally committed to providing the best movie going experience to their guests. At the same time, all PVR venues are duty bound to abide by and implement the judgement by the Indian Supreme Court to play the national anthem with every show. PVR plays an informative slide with an announcement requesting patrons to stand up for the national anthem.