What was the strategy behind Big Cinemas expanding with 50 new cinemas in the country
One of the issues that the cinema retail business is facing on an industry level is that there are pockets in the country, which have saturated with a plethora of screens opening up within the vicinity, while there are also pockets that are under-screened. Our business strategy is to attack those portions first. The core focus at the moment is to make this scope of the business financially lucrative and then look at adding more to the scale. In terms of geographical spread, we are strongest in western and northern India. In fact in markets like Maharashtra, we are present in almost every city. With this expansion in place, we will further consolidate our position in all the markets and ensure a wider reach.
Big Cinemas is often clubbed as elitist. Will the ticket pricing change that image, or will it differ from city-to-city
We cannot really focus on only a certain sect of consumers. We, as a brand, cater to the requirements of all cine-goers across cities, across demographics and across socio-economic classes. So while the Ebony lounges, Imax, 180 degrees and Cine Diner formats are market defining uber-luxury cinema viewing experiences for the premium classes with premium pricing models, there are also properties that cater to the more modest budget viewing requirements of consumers. These properties have been strategically spread across all the markets that we are present in. Also, the variation in the ticket prices across different markets is a function of the different tax slabs for different states too.
With the business of cinema seeing a distinction between single screen and multiplex going audience today, do you see that changing in the future
I think going forward, there will be multiplexes and megaplexes, a trend that has already started taking shape. BIG Cinemas already has a nine-screen property, R City in Mumbai and we are in talks with more number of large screen multiple formats or megaplexes. Also, thanks to digitisation, the release of regional films is no longer just regionalised; they get simultaneous releases across the country. This is one of the major drivers for the requirement of the megaplex formats.
Do you have more Imax screens lined up among the screens being launched by Reliance Mediaworks
We are already in discussion with the team at Imax in order to plan more screens in that format.
Considering the expansion with regards to the chain of cinemas, what are your expectations from the releases of 2014
The year 2014 looks like a really promising year for the business, as it has one of the best line-ups for films as compared to the last three-four years. In terms of scale, Jagga Jasoos, Happy New Year, Bang Bang are some of the big-ticket Hindi films, while Robocop, 300, Amazing Spiderman, Jack Ryan among others are Hollywood biggies that will also be a big draw on the Imax format. Also, after a slowdown in 3D films, were hoping that the 3D market will be back with a bang this year.
The year 2013 also saw a benchmark being set when it came to VFX, with films like Krrish 3 and Dhoom 3. Which films have Reliance Mediaworks handling its VFX
There are quite a few interesting projects that we have for the VFX business for 2014. While we cannot divulge too many details about the Hollywood projects at the moment, we will make timely announcements about them. In terms of the Bollywood projects, we kick-start the year with Gunday and Its Entertainment.
Are there any plans on the television production front
BIG Synergy has been one of the leading production companies when it comes to non-fiction programming in India. We have produced the Indian versions of most, if not all, of the big licensed format shows. The company is currently focusing on creating multiple language versions of successful Indian reality shows, which started off with the production of Kaun Banega Crorepati in three Indian languages. In terms of expansion of the portfolio, the company has tasted success with the production of fiction shows in regional languages, and one of the major focus areas is to get into fiction production in Hindi entertainment space as well.