We are constantly looking at alternate content and programming initiatives: Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures

The CEO of PVR Pictures talks about the new partnerships, the GST effect on theatres, selling off its stake in blueO and more

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Aug 17, 2017 1:42 PM

The first two episodes of American television series ‘Marvel's Inhumans’, shot entirely with IMAX cameras, are slated to premiere exclusively in IMAX theatres across India for a two-week window beginning September 1, 2017.  As per the partnership between IMAX Corp and PVR Ltd, announced in April this year, the television series will also be showcased in PVR’s top grossing cinemas in the country. 


Kamal Gianchandani, CEO of PVR Pictures, spoke to exchange4media on the upcoming screening, effect of GST and the multiplex chain’s recent agreements with Smaash Entertainment Private Limited to sell its stake in blue0 entertainment.


Inhumans is going to be the first television show to be shot with IMAX technology. As a partner, how well will the Indian audience resonate with this?


We have done this for the first time and with all these experiments, there is some degree of uncertainty. But this is Marvel we are talking about. It is an entity which has had a super successful track record of delivering unique cinematic experiences which have resonated with a large audience. I think it will do well but I would not read too much into numbers. I would see it as a first step in the right direction of creating a new market, offering alternate content and alternate programming opportunities. Even if the numbers are not like a feature film, we wouldn’t be too disappointed. 


How do you think this partnership will affect the business?


IMAX, Disney and Marvel have been working on several initiatives and this is one of them. IMAX is constantly trying to push the envelope, come out with innovative ways to package content and make the whole IMAX and audience relationship more interesting. We are the exhibitors and at the retail end, trying to augment and amplify the opportunity that has come by. Also, we are trying to take it to the last mile and present it to the audience in the best possible manner.


How do you plan to penetrate, with respect to such screenings in a country like India, where Bollywood is pretty much all the rage?


Currently, there are 10 IMAX theatres in India. PVR has four, Cinepolis has two, Inox has one and two with Sathyam in Chennai. So, there are 10 leaders operating from a commercial perspective. With PVR, it is slated to premiere in September and the number of shows would depend on what else is left to play on IMAX screens during that point of time. However, we will do our best to push it so that this initiative has a fair opportunity to utilize the potential and we want to make sure that we profile it right.


Can you tell us if there are any more collaborations with IMAX at this point?


To be honest, this whole opportunity has been created due to Disney, Marvel and IMAX engaging at multiple levels. Our contribution is not much in creating this opportunity but we are hoping that we do it independently because we also run a distribution business. We are constantly looking at alternate content and programming initiatives and we hope that IMAX would look out for more of such initiatives and opportunities in near future. There would be more to see as we go along. 


What prompted the decision of signing definitive agreements with Smaash Entertainment Private Limited and selling off PVR’s stake in blueO?


blueO has been a non-core asset which has been with us through the business to a certain scale but with PVR, our distribution and exhibition business is growing at a stupendous pace. There is enormous amount of opportunity within India. We are also looking at other countries like Sri Lanka. We felt that we needed to focus on the core business in a lot more sharper and focused manner and somewhere down the line, we felt that blueO was not strategic in our endeavour to grow our exhibition business. The timing of its launch was right but now with the change in landscape dynamic, we thought that it was time to part with that asset and give it to somebody who could take it to the next level.


According to you, how has the effect of GST been on the theatre business?


I don’t think that the effect has been bad. GST is just a change in the direct taxation structure. It’s a new system and every new system comes with its sets of anxieties and pain points. Initially, it takes time for people to comprehend how to make full use of it. We are in that transition phase. Our view is that it is a very positive change coming about and it will have initial hiccups but this is something which will have a domino effect on other aspects of business. This issue of having to deal with multiple tax systems, a lot of complicated and discretionary powers left to government offices which manage these tax systems, will see a lot of improvements which is good for business in the long run.

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