Put your game face on because multiplexes are planning to offer you bags of entertainment very soon. Was that multiplexes or malls? Well, the lines are blurring between the two – at least, multiplex chains hope so.
Food and beverages are passé as bait. To hook movie-goers to spend more time at their properties so that entertainment hopefully culminates in a film, multiplex chains are investing in gaming arcades aimed at children and adults alike. Thus, while some multiplexes already operate gaming and bowling alleys, more multiplexes are planning to invest in this segment. Others will be upgrading the facilities at their gaming zones to include high-end lounges as well.
PVR Cinemas, for instance, plans to expand to newer cities with its gaming and lifestyle brand bluO. They are already present in Delhi, Gurgaon and Bangalore but will extend their footprint to cities like Pune and Chandigarh too. So in three weeks, a new bluO outlet will be inaugurated in Pune, followed by another outlet in Bangalore. After this, the company will add another property to Pune before venturing into Chandigarh. PVR has roped in actor Nargis Fakhri, to promote its bluO brand among the youth. It says they are not positioning bluO as a sport but as a holistic, high-end entertainment business.
There’s more innovation on the cards. These gaming and bowling zones will not only include a food and beverage counter but also platinum lounges which will include facilities to host parties, and have X-Box and karaoke zones.
Gautam Dutta, COO, PVR Ltd says, “This was considered a dying business in India but we now see a huge potential in it. It may not be apt for all cities but works wonders in places where consumers have a high ability to pay.”
The business has a payback of 2.5 to 3 years, with the highest return on investment of around 30 to 35 per cent. PVR earns more than Rs 1 crore from every unit per month, which adds up to a staggering Rs 15 crore per centre every year. While PVR is a Rs 550-crore business, bluO has the potential to contribute almost Rs 30 crore to this business.
“We are optimistic that there will be a growth of almost 100 per cent in this segment in the next 18 months. Real estate developers in almost every city have rolled out the red carpet for us but we have to be judicious about the properties and cities we invest in,” reveals Dutta.
And it’s not just PVR. Cinemax had launched its gaming brand Giggles back in 2006 at Eternity mall in Mumbai. Their gaming arcades are present across cities including Rajkot, Nagpur, Delhi and Mumbai.
Girish Wankhede, Marketing Head, Cinemax India, says, “Multiplexes have to rely on sources of business other than just ticket sales and so, we monetise on food and beverages. It’s always good for a multiplex to have an ancillary revenue source through something like a gaming arcade too. These gaming zones complement the multiplex business very well.”
He agrees that the business is thriving in Tier I cities, where business generated is Rs 600 per sq ft. Since these centres are an average 10,000 sq ft, a multiplex can earn up to Rs 60 lakh per month.
Cinemax now plans to venture into cities like Mohali with Giggles. “The business from Tier II cities can amount to Rs 300 sq ft, which is only a healthy addition to our core business,” Wankhede further adds.
Fun Cinemas too has gaming zones across cities, where they own entire mall properties that also house their multiplexes. Not only do they have a presence in Mumbai, they are also present in Lucknow, Chandigarh and will soon go down south to Coimbatore.
Globally, gaming zones are worth more than a whopping $ 55 billion, but back home, we are a far cry.
Vishal Anand, Head of Operation and Sales, Fun Cinemas says, “Bowling alleys and arcades have been around for a while but the real estate that you block in your retail space and the per square feet revenue that is generated is not in line with what it should be.”
In the US, people in their mid-30s tend to flock to these places the most. This age group has the ability to pay thus the revenue generated is higher there. While, in India, the target age for these centres is between 10 and 30.
“If a similar age group as the US is targetted in India too, it can work wonders,” concludes Anand.