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PVR: Set to move the movie mart
Priyanka Joshi | December 03, 2005
Three years ago, when PVR Pictures, a fully owned film distribution subsidiary of PVR Ltd, was set up, it was more out of a need to diversify its value chain than competition.
At least, this is how Sanjeev Bijli, director, PVR Cinemas puts it.
"We were losing out on customers and so we began with distributing Hollywood movies through a tie-up with Miramax," says Bijli. It was a conservative beginning, and the going hasn't been always been smooth either.
While its recently distributed movies like Hanuman, Gayab, Ek Ajnabee and Raincoat saw huge marketing investments from PVR Pictures, they did not cosy up to audiences -- despite PVR's claims that the initial collections were good and they 'sold a lot of film merchandise.'
The exhibitor had put in a great deal of money on film marketing and branding that entailed contests, bringing the stars to meet audiences and merchandising tokens like T-shirts, mugs and caps.
PVR alleges that 'being an exhibitor and distributor worked to our advantage.' Industry sources claim that while the 'marketing gimmicks' succeeded in building up a crescendo in the pre-release period, garnering good initial collections, ultimately all the above films bombed.
Undettered, Bijli is all for his film distribution arm. He claims that PVR is very 'serious about film distribution" and that more funds will be allocated "once the requisite capital is raised.'
Bijli shared that PVR will invest Rs 6 crore (Rs 60 million) in its film distribution arm. "We are looking at 20-30 Hollywood films as of now, including great flicks like a few by Robert De Niro and the likes."
PVR's lucky streak began with Oscar-winners like Chicago, The Aviator and Kill Bill in India. The group has now entered distribution tie-ups with film houses like Paramount, IEG, Miramax and AMI. Bijli claims that they have a library of 100 'premium western' films that will be distributed by PVR Pictures.
Bollywood is also on his mind. "We recently concluded our one-year tie-up with Ram Gopal Verma films," he says, adding, "Our forthcoming movies include Home Delivery and cross-over films starring Aishwarya Rai."
With plans to have offices in Mumbai soon, the group has its sight set on distributing up to 15 movies in a year, which will be a mix of prime Bollywood and Hollywood movies.
"While our distribution volumes are not much to boast about, we intend to operate on a pan-India scale as early as next year."
With the itch to grow beyond just a 'multiplex cinema operator,' PVR is gearing up for a grand finale performance, complete with a launch into film production. Says Bijli, "Film production is the next relevant step for us."
While fellow competitors like Adlabs have already jumped into film production, PVR does not seem too hassled. "We will catch up," is all that he has to add.
Lacking a "big power house" to back the group's invetsments, PVR Cinemas will jump into the capital market with 77,00,000 equity shares on December 8.
This capital will be deployed for newer multiplex projects, expansion of its film distribution business, technological upgradation and renovation of cinemas. The company nurtures plans to extend its footprint in cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Indore, Lucknow, Chennai, Ludhiana, Aurangabad and Latur.
Besides expansion and diversification, PVR also plans to provide value-added services like self-service kiosks for ticket sales and a pick-up service for tickets purchased online. The kiosks provide a multimedia interface to provide an unattended ticket sales/pickup environment.
"These self-service kiosks enable ticket purchase through credit cards like MasterCard and VISA. We plan to include debit and cash cards soon," informs Jitender Verma, IT manager of PVR Cinemas. Even the tickets booked from remote websites can be picked up from these kiosks.
Says Verma, "Customers can just walk in, swipe their credit cards (that they have used to buy tickets on the website) and pick up their tickets from these kiosks." Boosted by the overwhelming response in Bangalore, Verma is confident that Delhi's weekend cinema crowds will take to these self-service ticket counters in a big way.
With three such kiosks recently introduced at the 11-screen PVR multiplex in Bangalore, Verma is excited about its introduction in Delhi by the end of this month, "To begin with, Saket PVR will have one such kiosk and, later, every PVR will have at least two."
With an investment of about Rs 350,000 lakh per kiosk, PVR plans to set up 40 such ticket counters all over the country.