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Multiplexes, partners roll out offers to get back box office buzz

·5-min read

New Delhi, Oct 15 (PTI) Multiplexes and their partners are rolling out a number of offers to woo film goers and rev up their business that fell silent for seven months on coronavirus pandemic woes.

Movie halls have reopened or are reopening in several places, including the national capital and parts of Madhya Pradesh, this week, with stringent dos and don'ts in keeping with COVID-19-triggered new normal ways.

However, authorities in states like Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have decided not to open theatres and multiplexes for now amid rising number of coronavirus infections.

The SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) mandated by the Union government include one-seat distance in halls, 50 per cent capacity, masks at all times, proper ventilation and air conditioner temperature settings at above 23 degrees Celsius.

Industry watchers said that footfalls are expected to be tepid, especially since there are no big titles, but multiplex and theatre operators are taking all steps possible to ensure safety of viewers.

Speaking to PTI, PVR Joint Managing Director Sanjeev Kumar Bijli said the multiplex chain has lined up a number of offers and promotions.

'We are giving special offers for privilege card members. We have over 10 million privilege card holders now. Our gift cards would be offered at a 30 per cent discount... considering that we will be playing a lot of older films and re-runs, we will also have festivals, the pricing that we are offering is low,' he said.

Bijli also said the company will run promotions with its channel partners to incentivise customers to come back to cinemas.

'We have worked on a matrix of prices and we are looking at something as low as Rs 69 for old and re-run films. In larger cities and gold class, premium facilities, we are going by Rs 299. It would vary, smaller cities would have larger discounts and in larger cities we are also looking at discounting but to a lesser degree,' he explained.

Paytm -- which facilitates sale of movie tickets on its platform -- said it has been closely working with all theatre managements to ensure that hall premises are safe for patrons.

It is also giving a limited period 'buy one get one free' movie ticket offer in partnership with PVR Cinemas to bring back the excitement and fervour around new releases, it said in a statement.

Further, Paytm said it will show socially-distanced seat layout along with other information about a particular movie hall, including thermal screening, contactless security check, availability of hand sanitisers, daily temperature check for staff members, on the app and website.

Besides, it is ensuring that customers can pay for tickets and food digitally for a contactless cinema experience.

A BookMyShow spokesperson said the online ticket booking platform has only collaborated with its long-term brand partners across the financial industry as well as cinema partners to bring exciting offers for customers.

'While over 40 of these offers are already live on BookMyShow, customers will see some more roll out in the next few days. Not only this, our much-loved 'Filmy Pass' is now available at a discounted price, giving users a chance to grab compelling offers at a minimal cost and watch their favourite stars and their films on the silver screen,' the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that these offers, along with its recently announced 'My Safety First' safety shield tag, will help users step out responsibly and enjoy their favourite movies in theatres once again.

The tag will create awareness about the various safety and hygiene measures available across various properties listed on the platform.

Himanshu Agarwal, founder and CEO of Magneto CleanTech, which offers air filtration system, said PVR Cinemas is one of its key customers where Magneto Central Air Cleaner (MCAC) is applied in the latter's existing air conditioning units at certain locations.

'MCAC has not just significantly improved their indoor air quality, but also protects their heavy duty assets,' he added.

The company is working with many other brands, including Google, Apple, Uber, Nokia, The Taj group, Oberoi, CGI Chandigarh Hospital, to provide central air purification solutions, he said.

PVR Cinemas, India's largest film exhibitor with 845 screens in 176 properties across 71 cities, had said it will start operations in 487 screens from Thursday. The movie screenings will begin from Friday and tickets will go live on its website as well as other ticketing platforms from midnight.

INOX Leisure Ltd had said it will completely rely on e-tickets instead of paper tickets and an all-in-one SMS with links for the QR code, auditoriums seat chart and access to F&B menu.

But it will be a while before new content returns. The releases of two major Bollywood movies -- '83', about India's cricket world cup victory, and Akshay Kumar-starrer 'Sooryavanshi' -- have been pushed to Christmas and next year, respectively.

According to industry executives, India has around 8,750 screens -- 3,100 in multiplexes and 5,650 single screens operating mostly in Tier 2 and 3 cities. Many cinema halls had shut down even before the nationwide lockdown came into effect from March 25 and managements are desperately hoping to get back to work.

EY India Partner Rakesh Jariwala said cinema has learnt to be a part of India's festive tradition.

'With festive season approaching, the government's endeavour of restoring normalcy is picking up pace and the move of opening up cinemas is a part of that effort,' he said.

Jariwala also noted that the success of this move will really hinge on two major factors -- big releases taking a punt on audience support and cinema lovers trusting that utmost precautions taken by theatre owners will be effective. PTI SR KRH RAM