PVR Inox Ltd., on Sunday announced the launch of a new 7-screen multiplex at Global Mall, Mysuru Road in Bengaluru. The 1,189-seater multiplex has increased PVR Inox’s presence in the IT city to 146 screens across 24 properties.
The latest launch is part of the company’s larger strategy to aggressively expand its footprint in South India. In FY23, PVR and Inox added a total of 168 screens, of which, the largest share of 74 screens came in the South, followed by 57 in the North.
Multiplex penetration in the South is the least among all the four regions due to low mall culture, said Jinesh Joshi, Research Analyst at Prabhudas Lilladher Pvt Ltd. “Also, the southern market is largely dominated by single screens and now that is slowly converting into multiplexes,” he added.
According to estimates, India has about 9,000-10,000 screens, of which roughly about 6,000 are single screens. Joshi said more than 50 per cent of the single screens are located in the South.
PVR Inox has estimated 150-175 screen additions in the current fiscal. “A large proportion of our screen expansion will be focused in the South,” Nitin Sood, Group CFO, PVR-INOX Ltd, said in the company’s Q4 earnings call.
“About 40-50 per cent of our overall screen count will continue to be added in southern India over a period of time,” he added.
Under a scheme of amalgamation, PVR Cinemas and Inox Leisure completed their merger this year to create a multiplex behemoth ‘PVR Inox Ltd.’ with over 1,600 screens across the country.
The stellar performance of South Indian movies could be one of the reasons for multiplexes to increase their focus in the region. In the last two years, several regional films from the South, including RRR, KGF Chapter 2, Pushpa, Ponniyin Selvan – 1, 2 and Vikram became pan-Indian blockbusters, garnering thousands of crores in collections while Bollywood films, including Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha, Akshay Kumar’s Samrat Prithviraj and Ranbir Kapoor’s Shamshera failed miserably.
Joshi, however, disagrees that the performance of regional movies can be a criteria for multiplex expansion. “Because content is volatile. Today, regional movies are doing well but a year or two later, it may not do that well; then the expansion can backfire,” he added.
He, however, said the share of regional movies in total box office collections is much higher than pre-Covid levels. Post Covid, hundreds of single screens across the country were forced to shut due to poor footfall and liquidity challenges. Joshi said a lot of single screens are converting into multiplexes and rebranding them with established multiplex players.