How Ajay Bijli of PVR cinemas is enhancing the movie experience for Indian audience
While lights, camera and action are gaining momentum, the latest one to which everyone is excited about is the sound effect in the entertainment industry. Both Hollywood and Bollywood are adopting the Dolby Digital sound for providing viewers with the best experience. The largest multiplex chain in India, PVR, has now tied up with Dolby Atmos for its 50 screens in India to provide an enhanced cinematic experience. What does this tie-up have in store and what are the other plans on the anvil, Ajay Bijli, Chairman & Managing Director, PVR Ltd, unveils.
What led to the tie-up with Dolby?
Our relationship with Dolby goes back to 1990 when we opened our first cinema in Delhi, Priya. At that time, I needed to play Hollywood films and Warner Brothers were not giving us good films so the only way to do that was to install Dolby. We were the second cinema in the country to adopt Dolby. When it comes to seating system, projection system and sound system, we want nothing less. So together we have been creating an incredible experience for the audience. We will be installing Dolby in screens with 250+ seats. These will primarily be in metros. Few properties in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai have been identified. So out of 50, almost 20 properties we have identified. These are the ones with big Audis where we will be installing Dolby. It’s costing us Rs 40 crore for the entire 50 screen tie-up for two years.
How do you decide on the tie-ups?
Whatever is new in terms of technology, we try to introduce that. So we always keep an eye on that to see what will be acceptable to Indian audience. Experiments are still being done. We did it with IMAX last year. Things are happening on the projection side as well. I can’t disclose all the details.
Does July seem to have been the best month for PVR?
July has been fantastic with Bahubali, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Drishyam. Even Hollywood films have done very well. I am very happy with the films in the pipeline. So the appetite of people to go out has increased. So last year wasn’t such a good one. This is looking like a blockbuster.
How far are you with DT acquisition?
For DT Cinemas, we are waiting for regulatory approval from CCI otherwise the acquisition is over.
Will the industry see any further consolidation?
I don’t see any more consolidation happening. A lot of action happened last year. Again if something has to happen, it will take some time.
Tell us about the three-pronged strategy of PVR.
In last two-three years, we have opened PVR Talkies in cities like Ujjain, Nanded, Latur, Raipur, Bilsapur, Pathankot and Panipat. This is our no frills model. Then we have PVR Cinemas where more than 300 screens are there. Then we have PVR premium cinemas, where we have a gold class. This three-pronged strategy of having three different segments in target is still very much there. As the whole country is under check, the growth will be everywhere. We have to see how growth happens with malls. We are conscious about locations. We don’t want to build cinemas anywhere. Even in small town locations have to be right. We have 80 lower-end screens in Tier 3 cities. We will have 150 in the next two years. Overall we are growing 70-80 screens everywhere.
How are the bowling alley and IMAX businesses performing?
One of our bowling alleys in Vasant kunj was closed because of the problem in the mall not because of the business. It was perhaps our highest grossing centre. So there wasn’t a problem with the business. The developer had some issues with the authorities. But by and large that’s a very profitable business for us. Under IMAX, we have got one opened and another is ready as we are just waiting for licenses in Bengaluru. With IMAX, we will play Hollywood content only. For this, we have to choose catchments having highest consumption of Hollywood films. In Delhi/NCR, Noida will be the first.