The driving force was to improve experiences and to encourage filmmakers to go ahead and make more films that could be enjoyed in different formats.
By Shashank Nayar
Appointment viewing may be dying, but it is unlikely that films will release in theatres and digital platforms the same day, Siddharth Jain, director, Inox Group, told Shashank Nayar. Movies recording more than Rs 50 crore in box office collections have begun to grow exponentially, which will drive more viewers to the big screens. Edited excerpts:
How would you explain the Megaplex concept, how different is it from the existing multiplexes?
This is the world’s first cinema with maximum formats and experiences under one roof. We have six different formats starting from Screen X, I-max, MX 4-D, Samsung Onyx, Inox Kiddles and Insignia, which is our luxury format, all of which are incorporated in the 11-screen complex, which is the Megaplex. The driving force was to improve experiences and to encourage filmmakers to go ahead and make more films that could be enjoyed in different formats.
To give an industry perspective, we are the only cinema chain in India to offer the Screen X format, which houses a 270-degree screen, providing a panoramic viewing experience. Furthermore, we are the only one to offer the Samsung Onyx screen (world’s largest LED cinema screen).
Box office collections globally, especially in China, have witnessed a slower growth rate. What would be your assessment of the situation in India?
According to our data, the multiplex revenue in India continues to grow at a very healthy pace. This is a record year for us and I am sure it is for the industry as well. While I cannot comment on China, box office collections have only been growing and I don’t see it coming down.
What has been the impact of the growing number of customers using over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime on cinema chains like yours?
We monitor something called the Rs 50-crore club, which includes movies that have done more than Rs 50 crore (in business) and that number is increasing exponentially on a calendar year basis. Three years ago the number of movies crossing the Rs 50-crore mark was around 22, in 2019 we are going to cross 35.
We believe that the audience right now is more willing to consume different kinds of movie content, which can be seen by the way some movies like War have performed. So, as of now we are not witnessing any kind of downward trend due to other platforms.
With Reliance Jio planning to provide the premium users of its Jio Fiber network a first-day-first-show experience, do you feel this would affect footfall and revenues?
Currently, globally there is a business practice which emphasises on having a window between a movie’s release date and when it is launched on OTT platforms. In India, we have an eight-week window before any theatrical content is released on any OTT platform. At the same time, there is content which releases only on Netflix and not in theatres. As of today, I don’t see a situation where content would release on OTT and theatres on the same day, the window will remain.
What would be your future growth and expansion plans. Inox being a low-debt company, do you plan on raising debt for capex purposes?
Currently, we have 600 operational screens across India and plan to add 80 screens every year, which should cost us around Rs 200 crore in capital expenditure. As of now we do not find the need to raise any debt for our plan to add these 80 screens. We are currently present in 68 cities and plan to expand aggressively in smaller cities; however, we do not have plans for acquisitions or any kind of inorganic growth.