PVR builds on luxury formats with Ice Theatres


PVR Cinemas plans to build on its luxury portfolio on expectations that economic expansion and rising incomes will lead more people to demand better outdoor entertainment experiences.

The Ajay Bijli-owned multiplex chain, which has tied up with French exhibitor CGR Cinemas to bring the high-end theatre-screen format Ice Theaters to India, opened the first of such properties in Delhi and Gurugram on Friday with one each slated to come up in Mumbai and Bengaluru by February. The Ice Theaters format includes side panels which along with the main screen, create a peripheral vision, giving a sense of enhanced immersion with a background contrast of colours and motion. Internationally, films like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, The Batman, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Top Gun: Maverick and Morbius have released in this high-end format.

“We identified this format as one that we could bring to India in order to encourage audiences to come watch films on the big screen. The luxury segment is currently less than 10% of our overall portfolio but will be an important part of our growth story, going forward,” Sanjeev Bijli, joint managing director, PVR said in an interview.

The company has identified Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Pune to open more Ice Theaters next year, after which it will decide on future plans. Movies under this format will cost an average 20% more than regular cinemas, Bijli said. This could range from 450-500 on weekends and 250-400 on weekdays. Each cinema will require an investment of around 1.8 crore for the new technology.

With a total of 884 screens, PVR already offers premium formats such as Imax, 4DX, Playhouse, Gold, LUXE, PXL, ONYX, Drive-in and Director’s Cut in India. This April, PVR also tied up with French cinema architectural design firm Ōma Cinema to design new, premium theatres for Indian audiences which will feature unique tiered balconies or ‘pods,’ similar to those in opera houses to provide safe, intimate cinema viewing experiences. Bijli said the chain is still working with the French company’s architects and believes the format will help build the community viewing experience in the country.

Bijli said unlike other large formats such as Imax, the process of conversion of film content in order to be played in Ice Theaters is pretty simple.

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