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New 'revelation' on multiplex role

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MUMBAI: It's a new 'revelation'. Multiplexes, digital cinema and electronic cinema are going to play a crucial role in the future of film entertainment business in India. And with the multiplex already proving its worth, digital and electronic cinema is just a tad behind in reaching that 'revelation' level too. The FICCI Frames session on 'Cine-matrix-The modern multiplex in India' saw experts analysing various patterns of the film entertainment business in India.

While IMAX theatre Systems VP John Schreiner offered his views on IMAX theatres differentiating multiplexes and development Adlabs Films Ltd MD Manmohan Shetty discussed digital cinema in India. Prana Consultancy's Tim O'Brien spoke on the dynamics of digital cinema and E-City Entertainment India CEO Atul Goel explained the important factors in the future multiplex.

Speaking on the IMAX business, Schreiner pointed out that Russia and India were developing at a record pace in that segment. He said in India the infrastructure boom was the driving force behind the 'multiplex madness'.

Opening the session, Shetty pointed out the significance of the multiplex business in India saying 2005 will see an investment of Rs 150 crore in the multiplex business alone. Elaborating on the digital cinema business model, Shetty stressed the significance of the satellite delivery method. Attracting investments from theatre owners was a major issue. Citing the various technologies prevailing in the segment, he said a compatible technological platform is important for making digital cinema universally acceptable.

Atul Goel discussed a study E-City had done in association with AC Nielsen in to analyse the entertainment consumption pattern. The study showed that multiplexes are clearly SEC A hub. Another key finding of the study was the high student patronage. Also, 60 per cent of the visitors owned plastic money like credit card or debit cards. Eighty-one per cent visited the multiplexes to watch movies. To a query on the potential of retail business in multiplexes, Goel said 40 to 45 per cent of Fun Republic's 2004-2005 revenues were driven by non-ticket sales.

He listed the potential marketing tools that would drive the multiplex business in India as interactivity, more promos during weekends, formulation of combo products and building loyalty programmes around immediate redemption.

O'Brien in his speech summarised global digital cinema trends and developments. He explained the advantages for directors, distributors, exhibitors and audience while dealing with digital cinema. Speaking about the need for a single technological standard for digital cinema, he said a US organisation called Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) was working on this front. "This means a lot for studios and theatre owners," O'Brien said. He said a low RoI due to low ticket rates would be one main challenge in the progress of digital cinema in India.

O'Brien identified the increase in urban development and a growing middle class segment as two major factors that would contribute to the development of multiplexes and digital cinema in India. He cited a struggling broadband scenario in India as one major factor that would contribute to the multiplex business here. "Because of a not very encouraging broadband scenario, multiplexes will continue to be an ideal platform for entertainment," he said.

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