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India’s biggest cinema operator banks on “Barbenheimer” after Bollywood flops

India’s biggest cinema operator PVR Inox is banking on Hollywood’s “Oppenheimer”, “Barbie” and unlimited popcorn to pack theatres after a string of Bollywood flops kept away those patrons who still favour going to the movies over streaming services.

Hoping to cash in on the global “Barbenheimer” craze, PVR Inox set up countdown timers for the first time at several locations and started screening “Oppenheimer” at midnight on Friday, the day of its U.S. release date.

It also cut snack prices – which movie goers have often complained about for costing more than the ticket – and is offering unlimited popcorn refills on weekends.

For the opening weekend, some theatres will also run an “Oppenheimer” movie marathon, with back-to-back shows over a 24 hour period. Combined advance sales for both movies for Friday to Sunday was 900,000 tickets, the highest for any film outside the Marvel or “Avatar” series, said company co-CEO Gautam Dutta.

“There is a tremendous amount of hype … The combined revenue from ‘Oppenheimer’ and ‘Barbie’ is likely to make a notable proportion for the current quarter,” Dutta added.

With 1,702 screens, PVR Inox is India’s largest cinema operator. Like their global peers, Indian cinemas are struggling to attract crowds due to the popularity of streaming platforms such as Netflix, and a series of flops from Bollywood, the Hindi film industry, hasn’t helped.

A PVR Inox staff member in Mumbai said several “Oppenheimer” shows – including the midnight and 7 a.m. screenings on Friday – were fully booked.

India’s online movie ticket booking service BookMyShow said this week 8% those who bought “Oppenheimer” tickets also booked to watch “Barbie”, many on the same day. More than 354,000 tickets for the two films had been sold by July 15, it added. Reuters

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