Multiplexes take Rs 1.4 bn hit; Big Cinemas cushions losses with south paw


: Multiplexes have taken a Rs 1.42 billion hit since producers have choked supply of their new Hindi movies from 4 April, according to estimates.

The hole in the pockets of plex owners has grown bigger as average occupancy rates have dipped to 11 per cent. For the first 15 days of the blackout phase, the average occupancy was 15 per cent.

Among the national chain multiplex operators, Reliance ADAG‘s Big Cinemas has been cushioned somewhat with its wide presence in the southern region where the row has not erupted yet. The company‘s south Indian spread amounts to 23 per cent of its total base of 201 screens, with properties sprinkled across Mangalore, Pondicherry, Tenali, Thanjavore, Vellore, Madurai, Salem, Warangal, Sivakasi,.Belgaum, Coimbatore and Hyderabad.

"No other national cinema chain in the country can boast of having such eclectic presence in the south. The southern markets have been performing handsomely with people relishing local content. With a large presence in the south, we have managed to counter losses faced elsewhere in the country," says Big Cinemas COO Tushar Dhingra.

In the other prominent multiplex chains like Inox, PVR, Fun, Fame and Cinemax, the number of screens are strongly skewed towards the northern and western parts of the country. These chains have, thus, not been able to capitalise on the boom in the southern markets.

"The absence of Hindi movies has only upped the occupancy rates for regional movies," says Dhingra.

PVR‘s properties in Bangalore and Hyderabad contribute to 14 of their 108 screens in the country. While PVR in Hyderabad is flush with Telugu movies

, PVR Bangalore is riding on an entire mix: movies in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and English. However its number of screens in the south stands at only about 13 per cent of its total screens.

Inox‘s presence in the south, too, comprises properties only in Bangalore and Chennai and account for only about 10 per cent of their total number of screens. Fun Cinemas also has a thin presence in the south with properties in Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Fame‘s southern presence consists of one property in Bangalore while Cinemax is yet to open its account in the south.

"Multiplexes are under pressure to source alternate content and the lineup of aging Hollywood movies and regional and Hindi releases from lesser known producers haven‘t worked to bring in audiences," says a film producer on condition of anonymity.

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