Ajay Devgn-led Multiplex Chain, NY Cinemas Plans to Democratize Cinema Experience

Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn aims to improve cinema penetration in smaller towns and cities through his multiplex label, NY Cinemas
Ajay Devgn-led Multiplex Chain, NY Cinemas Plans to Democratize Cinema Experience
Image credit: Ajay Devgn/Instagram

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Former Features Writer
4 min read

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Movies unite the diverse set of Indians through the religion that is entertainment. Every Friday, cine-lovers come together under one roof to enjoy the latest cinema production, irrespective of their caste, creed, age and more. Over the years, people have gotten more interested in visiting cinema screens over waiting months to watch the latest films due to increased disposable incomes.

The improved pay-cheques have resulted in increased demand for modern cinema screens featuring quality infrastructure, latest audio-visual systems, multiple F&B offerings, etc. The new age multiplexes are at the forefront of providing such enhanced facilities to patrons. While multiplex operators are expanding aggressively in metros, screen count remains low in tier–II, tier-III and tier-IV markets.

This presents a large untapped potential for the Indian film segment. Increased governmental assistance, urbanization and higher consumption going forward could pave the way for exhibitors to invest more in such under-served areas. Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn has also taken the opportunity to improve cinema penetration in smaller towns and cities through his multiplex label, NY Cinemas.

Being a Differentiator

Backed by an investment of INR 600 crore, the multiple chains aims to bring back the old-world charm of watching movies with unique concept-driven theatre. They are already operational in 15 screens including Hapur, Ghazipur, Raebareli and Surendranagar and plan to bring the multiplex experience to 250 screens across India in the next 5 years.

The project would be focused on the concerns over high ticket prices and the phenomenon of multiplexes being predominantly concentrated on the larger cities. NY cinemas, while is inclined to make a pan-India presence, would be concentrated on providing the citizens of non-metros with the right multiplex experience for democratizing the cinema experience for all, said Rajeev Sharma, CEO, NY Cinemas.

“There is enough disposable income in the tier-2, tier-3 cities. People there seek secure and comfortable places to go out with their families. Unlike tier-1, the afternoon shows are also full in the non-metros because they feel the quality of experience is as good as the metros, contributing to their willingness for investing in entertainment,” he stated.

Promoting Inclusivity

Multiplex operators today have moved towards offering premium entertainment experiences from just being content providers. NY Cinema aims to promote impulsivity among the cinema lovers through operating differential experiences to the audiences. We're treating our property aesthetically different from what others have done, Sharma stated.

While providing international standards of audio-visual comfort, the startup is trying to give its multiplexes a  classic retro look and feel. People have stopped stepping into the theatre a minute before the movie films and prefer leaving the premises as soon as it ends. Every property of the multiplex would have a live-action area which would be treated in a filmy.

For increasing engagement with the audience, NY Cinemas has introduced a prototype machine called Time Machine where the audience can pose with the characters in different frames and background, changed through VFX. Moreover, “We'll be the first in the world to also have a shopping experience within the theatre through NY Store, which would house all celebrity-branded merchandise,” he stated.

The State of Cinema Screens in India

According to the FICCI-EY media & entertainment industry report, movie screens in India grew to 9,601 in 2018, 31 per cent of which are multiplexes. The count of the single-screen cinemas has continued to reduce with its share in total screens being 69 per cent in 2018 vis-à-vis 71 per cent in 2017. Multiplexes have contributed around 55 per cent to the domestic box office collection.

70 per cent of the Indian multiplexes  is owned by the leading exhibitors such as PVR, Inox, Carnival Cinemas and Cinepolis. These industry leaders have been adding around 200-250 screens annually over the last few years and the trend is expected to continue going forward. New multiplex screen additions will happen in both metros and non-metros.

Expanding city boundaries and real estate development provide impetus to screen additions in metros. In non-metro cities, screen expansion has been more in areas with higher population density and large catchment areas. The trend has contributed to the increased penetration of multiplexes in smaller towns  and cities.

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