PVR Cinemas, India’s largest multiplex chain had 1.78 lakh seats across 821 screens in India during the 9 months of FY 19-20. During the same period in FY 22-23, the company had 1.83 lakh seats (3% growth) to offer across 884 screens. However, the number of admissions, (read: tickets sold) dropped by a whopping 20% during the same period. Average ticket Price increased by 18% during the comparative period from Rs. 204 to Rs. 241 and occupancy reduced to 29% in 9M Fy 22-23 compared with 36% for 9M FY 19-20. These, and other statistics were shared by the company in its Q3 Financial Results published on its website.
Clearly, the movie audience has diminished, as expected and is being widely discussed by the Industry. The exact reason for the drop in admits is not just the advent and fondness for OTT platforms but also the changing discretion of audience who seem to prefer content rather than the actors / Superstars.
Regional language films like Kantara & KGF-2 (Kannada), RRR (Telugu), Ponniyin Selvan PS-1 (Tamil) seem to have higher collections than Hindi language films like Brahmastra and Lal Singh Chadda, going by the Box Office collections presented by the company.
Income from F&B during 9M FY22-23 has increased 8% to Rs. 84 Cr over 9M FY19-20 when it was Rs. 78 Cr, though the price increase details, if any have not been declared. Advertising Income has taken a sharp fall of 35% to Rs. 19 Cr during 9M FY22-23 as compared to Rs. RS. 30 Cr during 9M FY19-20. The reason for this, is perhaps advertisers, mostly FMCG / Apparel / Fashion / Jewellery brands and regional retail chains do not see this medium as lucrative as it used to be, due to low occupancy at theatres. The two seem to operate like a “circular reference” in MS-Excel, that they are so closely interlinked.
Over all, PVR reported Rs. 95 Cr in total income earned during Q3 FY22-23 compared to Rs. 92 Cr in FY 19-20; EBITDA dropped to Rr. 14 Cr in Q3 FY 22-23 compared to Rs. 18 Cr in the same quarter of FY 19-20. For 9M FY 22-23, Revenues have dropped to Rs. 265 Cr from Rs. 279 Cr during 9M FY19-20 while EBITDA for 9M Fy 22-23 has dropped significantly to Rs. 36 Cr compared with Rs. 55 Cr during the same 9M FY 19-20.
The company operates 903 screens as on 31 Dec. ’22 at 181 locations in 78 cities in India and offers 1.86 lakh seats every day over 4 shows. There are 323 screens in South India contributing to 36% of its total offering while West contributes 27% screens with 247 screens. North India has 282 screens accounting to 31% while East India has a 6% spread with 51 screens. The company does not provide details of Revenues zone wise, but it is obvious that the income from screens would be disproportionate to its geographic spread, given that states like TN, AP & Telangana govern the ticket prices with a capping to ensure public are not inconvenienced. As political as this sounds, the pricing cap also ensure higher occupancy in southern states compared to North & West, where ticket prices reach as high as Rs. 600 per ticket. Bengaluru is an exception to this anomaly where ticket prices skyrocket as high as Rs. 1,000 per ticket during big budget movies.
The merger of PVR & INOX is underway, which is expected to be fully completed around Apr. ’23.
Clearly, OTTs have taken away a big share of the screening & exhibition business, when compared to 2019 or before. The sheer convenience of watching movies on personal electronic devices has indeed dented the movie watching experiences. In fact, many discerning movie-buffs seem to be investing on high-end televisions and higher-end headphones, to get a personalised audio effect.
Over 30 big budget films including those of top actors such as Rajinikanth’s Jailer, Kamal Hassan’s Indian 2 and PS-2 in Tamil, which could have a national reach, Shah Rukh’s Pathan followed by Jawan in the Summer months and many others are lined up all year. Audience is clear – give us great content and we will spend on tickets and F&B. Theatre owners are merely exhibitionists – hope the makers hear the verdict loud & clear.