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Cineline plans to open 300 screens in three years

Cineline India Ltd, owned by the Kanakia Group that has interests in real estate including hotels, has re-entered the Indian film exhibition business by launching Movie Max, a multiplex chain brand. The company had earlier sold its Cinemax multiplex chain to the country’s largest exhibitor PVR Ltd in 2012. However, the expiry of the non-compete clause period with PVR, has driven the Group to launch a new chain.

A top executive at the company said there was significant opportunity to grow India’s total screen count and for new companies to establish themselves even as the PVR INOX merger creates a formidable entity. Cineline intends to launch 75-100 new screens a year with an investment of ₹2-2.5 crore per property and is targeting the budget cinema segment.

“The current situation, after the covid-19 pandemic has created an opportunity for new entrants in the film exhibition space. After the PVR INOX merger, the space is vacant for a second preferred brand and that is what we hope to become,” said Rasesh Kanakia, chairman, Cineline India Ltd.

Ashish Kanakia, chief executive officer, Cineline India said the company that is targeting 75-100 screens per year, is in final stages of fitout for 30-40 screens, having already opened properties in Mumbai, Thane and Nasik this April. Other locations under consideration are Ghaziabad, Noida, Gurugram, Ahmedabad, Udaipur and Hyderabad. “The idea is also to take over some standalone multiplexes that may not have been able to restart operations post the pandemic. “Taking over single screens, however, is not viable, given their large size,” Ashish Kanakia said. Most single screens have minimum of 700-800 seats and the model is not viable anymore because they are difficult to fill up for any show.

The biggest change in the film exhibition ecosystem since the time the group last operated the business, has been the evolution in the eating habits of cinema audiences, Rasesh Kanakia said. There are so many more F&B options to complement the movie-viewing experience. “That explains why F&B and ticket rates have all gone up so drastically but we want to target the budget cinema segment, which is a model that still needs to be cracked. There are so many unorganised operators in the country apart from the national multiplex chains but very few offerings available with the right hygiene and at affordable rates,” Kanakia said.

The Indian film exhibition space remains largely underserved and could do with more players, Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema said. As far as screen density goes, India lags miles behind countries like the US, Canada and China with six screens per million of population. In comparison, China has 30 screens per million of population while US has 125 screens.

“We make more movies and in far more languages than any country in this world so we definitely need more people in the exhibition space, along with government incentives and support. Plus, the Kanakias were one of the pioneers of the multiplex culture here,” he said. Increase in screen count would help in better showcasing for small-scale films that struggle to find theatre space, Mohan said. Live Mint

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