Leading multiplex operator PVR is scouting overseas destinations for expansion and plans to open its first project in Sri Lanka in next two years, a top company official has said. Besides Sri Lanka, the Gurgaon-based firm is also looking for other neighbouring countries like Myanmar and other emerging markets for its overseas expansion. “We are opening in Sri Lanka, it’s not a massive foray but it’s still outside the shores of India. We are opening there in 24 months. Two properties are there in Colombo,” said PVR Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Bijli. The company is studying other global film exhibition markets presently and will decide entering a particular geography only after it finds that PVR will have differential offering and experience and add value to it, he said. “We are looking at some other countries but again I would say that we really want to examine and study the country before we enter,” said Bijli who has received ‘Exhibitor of the year’ Award at Cine Asia 2017 here last week. Recently, PVR had announced the acquisition of a minority stake in US-based luxury restaurant and theatre company iPic Gold Class Entertainment, a move that will give PVR exposure in the US market. “It would be great learning for us to bring some of the best practices into our luxury cinema format, which we want to expand in India.
It is a small stake but huge R&D and learning,” said Bijli. PVR, which currently operates 600 screens in 51 cities in the domestic market, is aiming to have an annual foot fall of 100 million in next two years and to have around 1,000 screens by 2022. About investments, Bijli said: “If you take an average of 2 to 2.5 crore per screen and we do 80 screens over a year, it would be 160 to 170 crore of investment. If you add refurbishment and technical upgradation as we are putting 4DX, Atmos, Imax, PXL, roughly it would be 200-250 crore”. The company will also pursue its inorganic growth if it “gets right value and right fit”. PVR is also coming out with a sub-brand to cater the small tier II & III markets as part of its strategy to serve the consumer at every price point. “We would be announcing it shortly… We would be rolling it out at much lesser price point in smaller cities which do not have enhanced cinema experience,” Bijli said. The company has also started its own cinema format PXL, which has big screens besides other features, to cater the regional cinemas on big screens with enhanced experience. Over the challenges from video on-demand platforms, which are now providing original contents to their viewers in a lesser time frame of two to six weeks of theatrical releases, Bijli said that model is not viable for a longer period. “The way movies are made today, 60 per cent revenue come from theatrical, we think that it’s a very short term strategy to bypass the theatrical window and straight away move to other platforms,” he said. The company is collaborating with the studios and content suppliers to find a solution for this. “We are confident that we will find the solution which is acceptable and practical for all stakeholders,” said PVR Chief of Strategy PVR Kamal Gianchandani. Bijli said that in the mature markets, as in UK and the US, a three month window is still maintained between theatrical release and others, and hinted it to be followed here.