It’s time to raise the bar in the film theatre business, show every minute detail of what’s happening on the screen, and up the game on sound, design and food. This is what Gautam Dutta, chief executive officer, PVR Cinemas, firmly believes in. And that is the reason why India’s premier film exhibition chain has announced the upgrade of two IMAX theatres at PVR Phoenix, Mumbai, and PVR Select City Walk, Delhi, with a new technology strangely titled ‘IMAX with Laser’ that makes its debut here.
The IMAX with Laser experience, to put it simply, does not heat up easily, projects light differently on the movie screen and is environment friendly as it allows the auditorium’s air conditioning load to come down. As a result, audiences will be able to see sharper and brighter images with increased resolution, deeper contrast as well as the most distinct colours easily on screen.
“The luminosity and depth of colour will be great, especially, for 3D films," said Dutta. The move reiterates the company’s focus on innovation and technological excellence, he added. Starting with the metros, PVR will take IMAX with Laser to smaller cities.
IMAX is a 70 mm motion picture film format and set of cinema projection standards where the screen image width is greater than the height of the screen. Currently, there are only around 42 IMAX screens in India.
“There are a couple of factors limiting the growth of IMAX in this market," Dutta said. “Firstly, the screen needs to be of a certain size for which you need large auditoriums. That would automatically necessitate at least 350-400 seats to get some returns on investment."
Besides, there are very few films that are either shot with IMAX technology or later reconfigured to fit the screen. Most of them tend to be from Hollywood, while India as a movie market, still leans heavily on local cinema. Very few Indian films such as Yash Raj Films’ Thugs of Hindostan, Rajinikanth-starrer 2.0 and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat have used the IMAX technology.
Dutta said the new properties that will use the IMAX with Laser technology will require an investment of ₹18 crore, nearly double that of a regular IMAX theatre. The significant investment and focus on such premium formats makes all the more sense given the competition from video streaming platforms that have limited entertainment to hand-held devices for audiences.