Theatres to woo cricket fans this World Cup

Theatres to woo cricket fans this World Cup

New Delhi: With no big-budget films being released while the cricket World Cup is on, theatre chains and multiplexes are trying to find ways of attracting audiences.

PVR Cinemas, a multiplex chain with over 142 halls, will show some World Cup matches on the big screen. It will show the India vs England match this Sunday in some halls in Delhi and Mumbai.

PVR “has been in talks with ESPN (Software India Pvt. Ltd) and we will show a total of eight World Cup matches for starters," said Pramod Arora, group president and chief executive officer at PVR. “These will be India-specific matches and we are sure of getting a good response."

The matches will be shown on 10-12 screens in Delhi, Mumbai and—most likely—Bangalore. If the response continues to be positive—and if the Indian cricket team makes it to the finals—PVR will consider showing the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals as well.

“With such a cricket-heavy calendar year, it becomes important for a multiplex chain like ours to ensure that we continue to get a steady flow of audiences," said Arora. “We have to design ways to keep audiences hooked, given that big films won’t release while the World Cup is on."

Arora said PVR had worked out a revenue-sharing deal with ESPN, the official broadcaster of the event that started 19 February and ends 2 April. He didn’t elaborate.

Another PVR executive, who didn’t want to be named, said the two had a 50:50 revenue-sharing deal, with tickets priced at 300-400.

Two other multiplex chain operators said showing World Cup matches wouldn’t be lucrative for them as ESPN had sought a minimum guarantee fee.

The official broadcaster asked for 50,000 as an upfront price per screen, per match, according to a senior executive of a multiplex chain that was in talks with ESPN to show the matches. This was apart from the revenue share, he said. Mint couldn’t independently verify the details of the minimum guarantee fee. ESPN declined to comment on this.

“Showing Indian Premier League matches in theatres last year was a failure and we didn’t break even. We want to tread cautiously though one must admit that World Cup is a far bigger property than IPL," said this executive.

Satyam Cineplexes Pvt. Ltd is planning to rent out halls for corporate sales presentations for 80-200 people.

“We charge the regular ticket price and we are assured of our auditorium getting filled up," said Deven Chachra, managing director, Satyam Cineplexes. “For corporates, it’s a great alternative to the staid banquet halls in five-star hotels."

The response, particularly in Delhi, has been encouraging.

“As an incentive, we also give the companies an option to watch a film post their presentation," added Chachra. By April, Satyam will also host world cinema titles in Delhi, he said.

Cinemax India Ltd, a multiplex chain with a strong presence in Maharashtra, will host a Marathi film festival with a mix of new and old films.

“We will not be showing World Cup matches but this is a good time to show quality cinema to a discerning set of audiences," said Sunil Punjabi, chief executive of Cinemax. Film festivals wouldn’t bring 100% occupancy levels and the margins will drop from 40% to 20%, he said.

“Interesting innovations can work to bring back audiences," said Archana Jhangiani, head of brand and marketing, BIG Cinemas, the multiplex chain of the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group.

BIG Cinemas had been in talks to show matches initially but has put those plans on hold, according to a senior company executive.

It will display World Cup merchandise at its multiplexes, besides allowing women to watch movies free for a day in March.