On 27 Mar. ’22, PVR Cinemas and Inox Movies announced that they were merging to form a large conglomerate. By April 2023, the merged entity would be operating around 1,600 screens across India. For the record, there are an estimated 8,000+ movie screens in India currently. Pre-pandemic, this would be around 10,000+. The Competition Commission of India, Stakeholders and Creditors of both companies have given a go-ahead for the proposed merger. These were shared by the Jt. MD of PVR Cinemas, Mr. Sanjeev Bijli during the inauguration of its newest multiplex at Jaipur. The company simultaneously opened new multiplexes at Jaipur, Bangalore and Gurugram earlier this week.
With the new openings, PVR Cinemas currently operates 900 screes and expects to cross 1,000 screens by the same time next year. The company plans to expand deeper in to smaller towns, especially in the South according to Mr. Bijli. At an investment of Rs. 30 Crores per screen, the company plans to invest around Rs. 300 Crore in the next 15 months.
Other than Sri Lanka where the company operates 9 screens, there are no plans to expand abroad, rather focus in the potential that is India, said the MD of the largest multiplex chain in India. Started in 1997 in a JV with Village Roadshow of the US nicknames “Priya-Village Road Show”, the company has a presence in 78 cities of India with 181 properties. The family of Mr. Bijli ran “Priya Cinemas” in the Vasant Kunj area of Delhi, which is where the journey of its exhibition business started. The company currently produces as well as distributes movies, over the past decade or so.
Mr. Bijli said the current pipeline of films looks encouraging and post-pandemic led lockdown, the audience is back to view movies with great content in the big screen. 2023 seems to be a big year for Hindi language films starting with the release of Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan in January and ending the year with Salman Khan’s Tiger Zinda Hai 3 in November. Meanwhile, over 2,000 films across various Indian languages, English language films as well as dubbed in Indian regional languages are expected to be released this year. The impact of OTTs seem to be waning off, with movie-goers returning to theatres for content well made.
In 2022, big banner films including those of Akshay Kumar, Amir Khan, etc. failed to make a meaningful impact at the box-office due to negative reviews and poor content. On the other hand, regional language movies such as KGF & Antara (Kannada), RRR (Telugu) and Ponniyin Selvan (Tamil) did well in their respective markets as well as in the HSB (Hindi speaking belts). 2023 will be a turning point for film producers, exhibitors, multiplexes and starts who have been commanding huge salaries,