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ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

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INDIAPLEXING

TECHNOLOGY

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contents (Re)Birth of Digital India!

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Broadway Destination

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Cinema: The Story of Melodies & Maladies

The 10 Big Years: Perfect 10?

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Shiela 70mm: A Class By Itself

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Murder of a Heritage Cinema

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Cinematic Fame

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Passion, Vision and Mission

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Holding on to 'Filmy' Strengths

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Entertainment of Design

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The 10 Aspects of Cinema Design

This issue of TW has two sets of page numbers - International pages TW-1 to TW-82 for TW, and India pages TM-1 to TM-84 for TM. TM is inserted between pages TW-68 and TW-69 of TW.

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Making a Good Show on Screen – Atul Goel

S P E C I A L F E AT U R E

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S P E C I A L F E AT U R E

SPECIAL FEATURE

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Inoxicating the Retail Revolution

FIRST PERSON

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Making a Paradigm Shift TM-

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cape Mindsc MMinds TM E D I T O R I A L

RELIVING INDIAN CINEMA Even as I was keying in words for my juggled thoughts for

The Impacting 10

this piece it suddenly struck me: beginning from early

The last ten years, perhaps, have been

20th century, Indian cinema exhibition has come a long a way to what it is today. It has completed a full century of existence. The earliest record of India's first permanent cinema dates back to 1907, from which, today we are 101 years. In the good old days, our cinemas used to regularly celebrate movies' running for 100 days and over - there were occasions of movies that ran for 100 weeks! Practically every single cinema in 'A' and 'B' class centres, particularly in the South, used to showcase display cabinets in the lobby with shiny shields of 'jubilee' movies.

more impacting than the entire history of the industry, globally, and nationally. Though there had been some very critical, path-breaking developments in the industry earlier like sound, seating, screens, etc. - it is the last ten years that have been redefining the industry year by year. Two very specific, era-marking developments took place for India, and the world. Multiplexing for India, and digital cinema for the world. Both have had their own characteristic highs and hiccups in these two areas; India, in particular. Today, ten years down the line, Indian industry almost stands

It's probably for the irony that over the last few decades,

on par with the global, if not ahead in an area or two. Having

hardly any cinema had been able to get a movie that can

taken gold class lounges, recliner comforts, hand held and

attract audiences for more than few a days, let alone weeks,

waist-mounted PDA-based ticketing, and finally 'imperial'

cinemas have forgotten that their industry has turned the full

designs, in its stride, Indian cinema is exploding with three-

century. The industry's modern cousin, the multiplex, who

dimensional digital strengths. One 'big' representative of

has assumed the 'big' brother role with its corporate might,

the industry is not only charting the untrodden path over

could have flexed its muscles towards sensitising the industry,

fibre optic network but also weaving multinational ambitions

the government, and the hugely populous patron

from a 4K mastering facility- quite unlikely for a country

communities. However, in a situation of apparent archrivalry, the elite brethren are unlikely to take up the cause.

'branded' third-world ! No other cinema company in the world - let alone the 'big brother US - ever attempted this. This, with

I'm a little surprised at the silence from the industry, as well

no State-funding like China, or studio consortia like the US!

as the administrative bodies, and, more importantly, the filmy

Following closely are the emerging circuits and independent

community who, together, leave no opportunity to make noise

chains- all contributing to an entirely new picture of Indian

for sundry festivals. Every film festival needs cinema halls to

cinema. Should all the drawn-up plans move as envisaged, it

screen its movies, then how come these cinemas are forgotten?

will be a differently digital India in the coming few years.

That multiplexes and standalone single-screens will co-exist,

Having said that, the Indian essence still remains, and holds

at least for a few years to come, is a grudgingly accepted

fort in its hinterland. The best to happen would be a synergy

reality today. Most standalone cinemas have been ramping

between the two for a uniformly harmonious picture that is

up their facilities to give a match to the multi-format

visible nationally.

competitors. It is all the more admirable that some of them have been fairly successful in their endeavours. While cinemas in the many B-class cities in Andhra and Vidarbha region made a good turnaround recently, that some of the multiplex chains have taken single-screens as their nodal points into hinterland expansion bear a testimony for this. Having said

Before I run out of words, let me humbly put out that TM is also 10 years now. I believe Theatre Magic was blessed to have born at the beginning of these magical years, and share with you all, the magic that the Indian cinema is. It strives to do so in the years to come.

that, irrespective of whether multi-screen or single-screen, all are generically cinemas - there is, therefore, a case for all of them to come together to make a cause of reliving Indian cinema, at such a critical juncture in time that tells: perform or perish!

Bhavanashi Ramakrishna Editor, Theatre Magic


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Centre for Excellence on Entertainment The Government of India would set up a National Centre of Excellence for gaming, animation and visual effects and a Moving Image Museum at Mumbai. Making an inaugural address at the recent The Big Picture Conference, held in Goa, Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, and External Affairs Anand Sharma also disclosed the government's intentions to upgrade the Films and TV Institute of India, Pune. New streams of courses would also be added to meet the demand in new emerging areas, he said, adding the National Film Archives of India too was being upgraded for preserving classic films. India - The Big Picture Conference was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries with New Dreams, New Directions the theme of the conference. Sharma described cinema industry as the most powerful unifying bond amongst Indians, and has the potential of bringing together various cultures and peoples of the world, which can ultimately help development of tourism sector of the country. The Minister stressed on evolving plans for utilizing natural beauty of the country for promoting the country as

shooting destination of the world. He assured all help and assistance to boost media and entertainment industry in the country. India has bountiful creative and technological talent available, and can become hub for outsourcing as well as making and exporting original animation films to other parts of the world, the minister added. That the government had liberalized the policy with regard to foreign direct investment, the minister expressed hope that the foreign companies will take the benefit of this measure to usher in new models for greater cooperation and profitability. I&B secretary Sushma Singh said the government was keenly observing technological advancement in the entertainment sector and the policy on convergence and regulations aimed at developing new models of entertainment would also soon be formulated taking the industry into confidence. The conference also deliberated upon New Revenue Streams -Merchandising & Theatre Chains, among a wide gamut of subjects.

Satyam's Vodafone Tuesday New Delhi-based cinema major Satyam Cineplexes launched an initiative called Vodafone Tuesday under which select Vodafone customers will be awarded two movie tickets for the price of one every Tuesday at Satyam Cineplexes. Satyam Cineplexes will run this offer at their three sites in the national capital- Patel Nagar, Janak Place and Nehru Place. Select Vodafone users buy one movie ticket and get one of the same or lesser value free of cost, valid for the same show, same time. Vodafone customers can avail this offer through specially issued privilege mobile coupons entitling them to avail of discounts and other free facilities only on Tuesdays. Satyam Cineplexes general manager- marketing and promotions Munish Sharma said, "our consistent endeavour at Satyam Cineplexes is to award our associates and customers with ongoing lucrative offers and promotions. During Vodafone Tuesdays, we are helping our customers avail of much more pleasure and fun at exciting prices."

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Vodafone assistant manager marketing Aditi Sethi added, "we are pleased to associate with the finest cineplex chain in Delhi, Satyam Cineplexes, for Vodafone Tuesday. Satyam also provides the desired reach and comfort to our customers. This promotion has gained encouraging response and Vodafone intends having a long-term association with Satyam for Vodafone Tuesdays and other such initiatives."


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Atul Goel Managing Director E-City Ventures

I congratulate the Theatre World team on completing 10 years in the exciting

cinema industry. Over the years the magazine has been providing a remarkable mix of content on the industry and it gives me immense pleasure to say it is one of the most read cinema magazine. As we all know Indian cinema has seen a quantum growth and India is now a front runner in producing quality cinema. Certainly, the sector would not have flourished without the contributions of many of the industry partners, including Theatre World. I wish the team all the best and hope they carry on with the good work!

Shravan Shroff Managing Director Fame Cinemas

It is heartening to note that Theatre World has completed 10 years of operations in its dedicationto the cause of the industry. Theatre World is an integral part of our industry. It is not only unique in its content but also indispensable for all industry professionals as it is the only magazine that gives in depth coverage to the multiplex/ theatre business domestically as well as internationally.

We congratulate the Theatre World team on the joyous occasion, and wish the publication continues to do the good work, and goes on to achieve many more laurels.

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ADAG's 'Big' Branding Drive In what can be arguably the biggest branding initiative in the history of Indian entertainment industry, Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) has begun popularising its re-branding of Adlabs Films cinema chain as BIG Cinemas with the tagline Ab Bada Mazza Ayega. The programme, which began on 28 October, would be spread through a 360-degree campaign, through all formats of media print, electronic, and other means. This also includes the company's 73 multiplex venues in the country, totalling 186 screens. The company is said to have earmarked a whopping sum of around Rs. 7 crore for the campaign. The new brand has been designed by Singapore-based international creative agency Bonsey Design while the ads have been conceptualised by McCann Erickson, India. "India's largest cinema chain is now clearly reflecting its place as part of BIG, the premier entertainment brand in India," Adlabs Films CEO Anil Arjun said. "In line with the Reliance ADA Group's philosophy for a

single monolithic c o n s u m e r entertainment brand "BIG," India is the first step in our international brand rollout," he said, adding, "BIG Cinemas will also be rolled out across over 200 cinemas in US and Malaysia shortly." Tushar Dhingra, BIG Cinemas' COO added, "we feel that the brand's fresh new look will appeal to our wide range of guests from both metros and smaller cities alike. The emphasis is on giving our guests a larger than life or BIG experience when they visit any Big Cinema across the country and to give the brand a more relatable and approachable feel."

BIG Cinemas Launch KG BIG BIG Cinemas, part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and India's leading entertainment conglomerate Adlabs Films, announced the opening of its first cinema in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Movie lovers in Coimbatore now will experience world-class cinema viewing, along with host of premium services. After few months of architectural and technical renovation, the KG BIG Cinemas has been transformed remarkably to give guests the true BIG experience. BIG Cinemas had tied up with KG Cinemas in April 2008. The cinema has been non-operational from August 2008 due to the refurbishment. "We are happy to offer the BIG experience to cinema lovers in this region with our newly refurbished cinema," Tushar Dhingra, COO, BIG Cinemas commented. "Our focus has been to constantly innovate and provide a world class movie experience," he said, adding "we got favourable response from the KG BIG Cinemas' moviegoers previously and are keen on increasing their enthusiasm." The refurbished KG BIG Cinemas, with four screens and an aggregate of 2325 seats, is equipped with air-

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conditioned auditoriums, plush push back seats, floor lights, hygienic and clean washrooms, tantalizing food and beverage offerings- all dished out in beautiful ambience both inside and outside the auditorium. While maintaining the original charm of the building, the cinema has also been refurbished with digital sound systems and superior xenon projection systems in order to provide an international cinematic experience. For easy procurement of tickets, KG BIG Cinemas has increased the number of Box Office counters, besides, incorporating, for the first time, Internet booking options.


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Seven-storey Multiplex in Vizag Art Deco, in collaboration with Hyderabad-based realty firm Sweety Builders, is planning to construct an ambitious multiplex in Visakhapatnam, the port city of Andhra Pradesh. To be created as part of a seven-storey complex at Super Bazar premises near the Police Commissionerate in the city, the project would comprise a four-

screen multiplex with 70mm theatres, besides a slew of retail entertainment with food courts, multi-cuisine restaurants, coffee shops, gaming zones and pubs, besides a cellar-parking space for over 900 four-wheelers. Planned as build-operate-transfer venture, the project is estimated to cost around Rs. 15 crore, according to market sources.

Piracy Dent: $4 Billion Loss to Indian Industry A 2007 study by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) and Ernst & Young has revealed that the Indian media and entertainment industry as a whole suffered losses to the tune of $4 billion (approximately Rs 20,000 crore) due to piracy.

The delegates at the conference unanimously agreed India has some of the best laws pertaining to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). However, they all were equally concerned that none of the laws was being implemented properly.

The film industry suffered suffered losses of almost a billion dollars, translating into loss of thousands of jobs. "With the financial crisis looming over India, piracy will continue to affect the industry in terms of financial losses and of course, loss of jobs,'' said Rajiv P Dalal, director of Motion Picture Association International.

The conference suggested setting up a common body or taskforce to look after the enforcement of IPR protection. "In India, filmmakers are individually protecting their titles, unlike the US where filmmakers have a common body addressing these issues," Dalal said, adding, "fragmented action will not work as effectively."

A recent conference on counterfeiting and piracy, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), debated the issue at length and sought for solutions to the menace. The conference was the second such organised by CII aimed at tackling issues of piracy and counterfeiting.

David Blakemore, executive director IPR business partnership Asia Pacific said, "Protection of IPR is the most important thing we should be focusing on as the global economy is heading towards recession. The existing solutions are not enough and we need to be smart, innovative & united in understanding such problems to combat the current situation.''

Pyramid to Renovate 250 Cinemas in South Pyramid Saimira Group is gearing up for renovating as many as 250 theatres in the four Southern States. According to market sources, the company intends to invest a whopping amount of Rs 200 crore over the next two years. The company plans to renovate at least 100 theatres in Tamil Nadu alone, its home ground, beginning with Jyothi Theatre, a single-screen on the outskirts of Chennai. It would subsequently spread to other three states in the south. The modernization of these theatres mean that they will be equipped with all the modern gizmo embellishments of in-built mobile zone enabled with blue-tooth, video booth for live TV, radio and overhead projection facilities.

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Besides these, the cinemas would have supporting facilities for news gathering mechanism with broadband and video conferencing provisions. A separate auditorium would also be incorporated for the purpose of seminar etc. The theatres will also have merchandising centers, gaming arcades, music zones and food courts.


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Genre Announcers at Fun Cinemas With a view to enhancing the patrons' movie watching experience inside the theatre, E-City Ventures-promoted Fun Cinemas recently began screening Genre Announcers at the beginning of the each movie across its network. Introduced with the idea of setting the tone for the ensuing movie watching experience, the Genre Announcers are 60 seconds clips which will define the genre of the movie getting screened for the audience- thereby setting the mood for the experience to follow.

There will be six different Genre Announcers - action, comedy, drama, kids, romance, and thriller. "We are proud to be the first and only multiplex in the country to introduce this novel idea we call as Genre Announcer," Fun Cinemas vice-president Shirish Handa said. "This is the new way of setting the tempo for our patrons evening at our cinemas," he said, adding, "I am confident these films will bring a smile to their faces and will be a memorable marketing gimmick."

Shorn up, Single-Screens Try to Shore up Shorn of the money-spinning movies and faced with the threatening competition from multiplexes, besides the burden o f a n u n f r i e n d l y t a x a t i o n p o l i c y, single-screen cinemas in Andhra Pradesh, are scouting various revenue streams to shore up their returns. Andhra Pradesh continues to be the largest cinema state with over 2500 standalone single-screen theatres, despite the closure of around 1,000 theatres over the past few years. Hyderabad, the State capital alone is home to around 200 theatres including the nearby suburbs which makes it top the numbers chart. However, this is not so when it comes to revenues since the onset of multiplexes that are comparatively on a better platter of sops and concessions, retaining a better part of their collections. There has been a steep fall in the theatre rentals making their life hard. Rentals have fallen to onefourth of what they used to be earlier, say market sources. According to them, during the good olden days, the rentals used to range between Rs. 10 lack to Rs 7 lakh per week; they have recently fallen to Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh. That even at this fallen rate, the Andhra cinemas cumulatively generate an amount of Rs. 3,000 crore, the fortune of good olden days can be imagined (a whopping amount of Rs. 13,000 crore). As a way out of this situation, the standalone cinemas have began entering into revenue-sharing

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agreements with the distributor / producer of the movie. The agreements are made based on the promise of the movie, stature of the cinema and location. If only the movie's prerelease run-up excites the market, then theatre owner stands to demand a higher share. Payment is made after a week or two depending on the success of the movie. Since the distributor doesn't need to pay the 'fixed' amount if the movie runs to an empty hall (if it is a flop), he tends to agree to the terms of revenue-sharing- which is exactly what's happening in Andhra, inform sources. If the movie doesn't do well at the box office, it means bigger loss to the theatre owner since his lease amount would have been higher than that shared due to a flop movie. However, theatre owners have been preferring revenue-sharing method to leasing following the rockbottoming of rentals. In addition to the revenue-sharing agreements, standalone cinema owners have been ramping up their allurements on the lines of multiplexes. While the multiplexes are emerging more as family entertainment centres - now locally referred to as 'food, entertainment and cinema centres (FECs)' single-screen theatres have also been gearing up to incorporate accessory entertainment options. Despite the spate of challenges, most single-screeners do not seem to be willing to convert to multiplex to get to the greener side of the industry. They appear stuck to their model, with an impression that the charm of large theatre can never be replicated by a multiplex. Fortunately for them, there are large chunks of moviegoers who endorse their conviction.


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CineAsia’s Exhibitor of the Year 2008

Indian Cinema’s ‘BIG’ Honour Indian Cinema has, visibly, come of age, and is showing off on the international stage. Dynamic entrepreneurism, technology exploits, design expertise, myriad entertainment expansion, and global ambitions have made the popular Indian entertainment format finally get to the centrestage of global acclaim. Come December 11, Indian cinema will have its ‘Big’gest honour thus far- Exhibitor of the Year at CineAsia 2008. It’s actually the words of an excited top exec at the Reliance ADA Group’s BIG Cinemas: “Come December, Indian cinema will have its biggest honour.” Though the exec declined to open up further, his exulting did it. Big Cinemas will be honoured as the Exhibitor of the Year at CineAsia 2008, to be held in Macau from 9-11 December this year. As Tushar Dhingra, chief operating officer (COO) of BIG Cinemas receives the coveted award from one of the dignitaries at the Gala Final Night Banquet and Awards Ceremony on 11 December at the Wynn Macau, the event will go down in the annals of Indian cinema exhibition as one of the most (thus far) cherished achievements. CineAsia – one of the four major cinema exhibition conventions in the world – is an event that brings together Asian cinema industry professionals from across the segments of cinema owners and suppliers to film buyers and distributors. CineAsia also presents Awards of Distinction to Asian film stars and the industry luminaries.

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Consider this:

BIG Cinemas’ being awarded Exhibitor of the Year at CineAsia 2008 is third such honour on Asia’s most respected and biggest international cinema exhibition platform, and second for cinema exhibition. In 2004, the convention honoured two of the brightest luminaries from Indian cinema. Ajjay Bijli, chairman and managing director of PVR Cinemas was honoured with Award of Excellence. The recognition was first of its kind for an Indian exhibitor on any international platform. The same convention had also honoured Yash Chopra, noted film director-producer with Lifetime Achievement Award. India, took a gap, but has come back with flying colours at CineAsia.

Arguably the biggest thus far, the CineAsia honour to BIG Cinemas cannot be a surprising development though, considering the strides the Indian cinema had been making generically, and BIG Cinemas in particular, since its inception eight years ago. There are other major exhibition chains in Asia,

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some of them operating across the pan-Asia markets, however, the diversity, and the dynamism with which BIG Cinemas strode to what it is today can be a model for others.

The company came into being in 2001 as Adlabs Films- as an exhibition offshoot of the film processing giant Adlabs. Within months of emerging onto the exhibition domain, the company created in Mumbai what came to be acclaimed as the world’s largest Imax Dome theatre. Even as it spread rapidly in the following two years, in 2003, the company made the daring exploit of bringing E-Cinema to what had been predominantly an immature, if not an uninformed market. It, however, paved road for other players to step on the path and make way to their fortunes. Within the following two years, the company – as it underwent change of guard, with Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group assuming the control of its operations – began spreading all across the entertainment milieu, both by technology, and applications. Even as it pursued the technology cinema, the company expanded exponentially to cross 100 screen count within an year. Brought in distinctly different

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cinema designs, appealing to the discerning moviegoers, as also some of the most innovative as well as aggressive marketing initiatives towards reaping in more footfalls.

There may be, and surely, more aggressive exhibitors in Asia, but not with this variety, acclaimed an industry observer.

In 2007, it had not only braced up to more Imax large format theatres, but also brought, as a world’s first interactive, six-dimensional movie entertainment format, in addition to 3D.

”It is a great honour to be able to single out the achievements of both Big Cinemas and Thushar Dhingra at this year’s CineAsia. In the world of exhibition, you couldn’t ask for a more dedicated and respected professional who has done so much for the industry. We are looking forward to paying tribute to BIG Cinemas and Dhingra for his achievements, as this is a richly deserved honor,” noted Annual Convention Co-managing director Mitch Neuhasuser.

In 2008, the really ‘big’ year for BIG Cinemas, the company made all-round display of entertainment entrepreneurism. It created overseas presence across as wider markets as the US and Malaysia and Mauritius with a screen count of 200. Simultaneously, it established itself as the insurmountable leader with an aggregate of 186 screens from 73 multiplexes, for over 73,000 seats. Topping all, the company re-launched the Adlabs Digital with 2K digital projection systems, supported by one of the largest fibre optic cable networks, there by becoming the world’s first exhibition company to do so. It quickly earned the distinction of crossing 10,000 shows using the network. In the run-up to this achievement, the cinema company had been twice awarded Retailer of the Year at the India Retail Summit, and once recognised as the Most Admired Retailer in Entertainment Award at the Images Retail Awards.

Adds Dhingra, the ‘to-be-Awardee,’ “this award is special as it represents our efforts to raise the bar and revolutionize cinema viewing in India. We will continue our rapid growth supported by pioneering initiatives to live up to our promise of providing Big experience to all moviegoers. Being the first Indian cinema chain to win this coveted award is truly great motivation to the entire team.” Adlabs Films CEO Anil Arjun added, “this award is an honour that reflects great credit to the entire team at BIG Cinemas. It is an indication that we have been on the right track; and an affirmation of what we have always believed in providing audiences across India, over all economic strata, a big experience.”

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Alok Tandon COO Inox Leisure Limited

Any growing industry needs a media platform for a timely update, besides genuine dissemination of information. More so for Indian exhibition industry that is growing with global stakes. Looking from that perspective, Theatre World is the most relevant trade magazine for the cinema exhibition industry today. We have found it to be a highly effective title with which to reach our trade partners. Besides giving a real insight into the technical aspects of a movie theatre, the publication also facilitates B2B interaction which is commendable. The international section TW gives us an insight into what the rest of the world is up to. We congratulate Theatre World on its completing 10 years of successful operations, and wish it continues to excel in its endeavours. Working with the magazine has been a joy and a pleasure and we look forward to being a part of the big bright future of Theatre World.

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• TECHNOLOGY •

(Re)Birth of Digital India!

The cinema exhibition domain, as well as the entrepreneurship in India is getting onto a different platter altogether. While the digital cinema, as the DCI had originally wanted it, is beginning to take ground slowly, but firmly, the corporate India is giving it a whole ‘big’ new image that is promising to project a new Digital India, besides expanding continentally for a global stake. Theatre Magic, celebrating its 10th Anniversary this issue, is pleased to present to its readers a very very special treat of the ensuing digital India. Read and relish. – Bhavanashi Ramakrishna Sometime during mid-may 2003...

over what could be argued as the most sophisticated, surefire futuristic network in the world- the fibre optic cabling.

History of a sort was initiated in two C-grade, if not Dgrade muddy cinemas in Mangalwada and Sangola, some As if to aptly symbolise the success of the technology in a very 200 km from Pune-Maharashtra, as Mumbai-based Adlabs realistic situation, the Gujarat capital had just a week ago – under the then film-doyen Manmohan Shetty – delivered experienced serious terror blasts, and everything coming into the and screened a digitised movie, for the city, including the film prints, hard disks, and other accessories, first time in India. That was the birth of were being stopped, scanned and delayed “There is tremendous digital cinema (albeit in a format that for delivery. However, the movie Mission fell out of approval later) in the country. Istanbul – that actually dealt with terror and opportunity for digital cinema underworld nexus – was delivered on time in India specifically, because On 25 July, 2008... to the intended theatre, on par with the the domestic market is Roughly around the same time, five filmy release to theatres rest of the country, hampered by lack of adequate years later, history was re-made by the fully secure, and without any problem. number of screens.” same company in a far more bigger, History was remade, in a bigger fashion, - Patrick Vons Sychowski, mature and demanding movie centre building on the preceding version. Was COO, Adlabs Digital Ahmedabad in globally it also the re-birth of Digital India? acknowledged model – 2K digital – and, TM-22

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• TECHNOLOGY •

“Probably!” quips an apparently non-committal Patrick Vons Sychowski, the chief operating officer (COO) of Adlabs Digital. “What is important, more than what it is in terms of its place in history, is that it proved the capability of the network on the first day it was used,” he clarifies. “The best part of the exercise is that it brought into place the most secure, sophisticated delivery model, and probably the largest in the world.” That was just the beginning of an ambitious script for the ‘digital’ genre of the Indian cinema exhibition, and its entrepreneurship beyond the Indian frontiers. Consider this: •

Setting-up of a network of 500 digital screens with DCI-approved 2K digital cinema

Delivery through optical fibre network of over 80,000 km length

Submarine cabling that can deliver digital content across the continents

A FACT-certified, 4K DI digital mastering facility

Backing of a corporate might that can make things possible

A total of 21 screens have already been equipped with 2K digital systems as a test bed for the mega digital exploit. The systems also include the digital 3D systems that today command the market fancy, globally. With all the experiments proving successful, it is now to visualise a whole ‘big,’ digital India. TM-24

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The Prelude Everyone who is familiar with movie theatres, if not the cinema exhibition industry as such, knows about Manmohan Shetty – erstwhile chief of Adlabs, and the person known for daring exploits in business – and the E-Cinema model which he brought. Starting with two C-grade theatres in Kolhapur district in Maharashtra, the company was euphoric at the beginning to expand to a total of 68 screens, mainly in Maharashtra, and had digitally mastered over 100 movies for those screens, at its mastering facility. It had created a preview theatre to check the quality on its premises before releasing the prints to the theatre. The company roped in Norwegian projection solutions provider projectiondesign for projection, and Singaporebased GDC Technology for server solution. The delivery model was by physical transport in hard disk format. One important point that a honest Shetty made (modestly) during the launch of this model – that probably few would remember to this day – was that the model would not match the quality of film-based projection as was being presented in A-grade cinemas. Even as its security aspect against piracy was being discussed, the model was pushed based on the ‘first-day-first-show’ delivery principle.

Apparently, more than the technology, piracy was in focus. ‘If the movie print was made available on the first day of its “It’s going to be 2K all across Adlabs’ release, to all its market points, network. If we go, it would be upwards it would by itself eliminate to 4K, but that is subject to the market pirated VCD menace’ was the conditionality which we don’t think it argument.

is there right now. Instead, we would leverage all the additional benefits that 2K will bring along with it- like the digital 3D, streaming live events, introducing interactivity in cinemas, and all other activities possible.”

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It did work, but not for long. Due to reasons ‘technical!’ Ironically, ‘it was soon felt by Manmohan Shetty, and the people leading the initiative that there was no security that


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Ramesh Prasad Director Prasad Media Corporation

Cinema exhibition industry the world over, and particularly in India, had been undergoing tremendous changes over the past few years in every aspect- design, technology, services and management. It is often a kind of a challenge for aspiring cinema entrepreneurs to evolve the best model or choose the best product configuration. Theatre World comes like a guide unfolding, every time, a global resource in the best fashion one could hope for. The publication is a bridge between India and the world. We find the magazine as of immense benefit to not only exhibition industry, but also the film industry as a whole in that even best movies are not watched by people if they don’t find the best theatre to screen them. The lucidly presented TW columns detail what is best and how. We are extremely happy to note that the publication is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and wish it continues to do is commendable service to the industry.

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• TECHNOLOGY • the movies churned out in the model would not end up being pirated. The model did not guarantee the security. So the decision was made to terminate the business, though the model was technically successful.’ The Subhash Ghai-promoted Mukta Arts, which joined hands in between to pursue a combined interest, apparently fell apart. Since it was also hurting the company’s lab business – simply because it was opting for digital prints, instead of film prints, its core business – it was ultimately decided not to continue the model.

The Recent Past... Sometime in the middle of July, 2005... In what might be the biggest acquisition in Indian cinema exhibition industry, the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani (ADA) Group acquired Adlabs through Reliance Land Ltd., a part of its Reliance Capital Group- marking the beginning of a whole new, ‘big’ era for Adlabs. Adlabs, which was actually trying to revisit its abandoned digital idea once again, but with a higher and secure model of 2K, a great synergy came its way through the ADA Group concern Reliance Communications, that is credited with laying one of the largest fibre optic networks in the world, connecting large terrains (read markets) of India. A synergy between the domain expertise of the erstwhile Adlabs Digital, the added infrastructural strengths of Reliance Communications, and maturing of technology and quality standards at international level re-opened the domain of digital cinema- on an altogether new, higher platform. According to Patrick, the focus was on a strictly DCI-grade digital cinema, and to look at it from three angles: The first- mastering and grading digital cinema packages of major films, secondly- to install 2K digital cinema equipment in the theatres, and thirdly- to connect these theatres by optical fibre connectivity. Thus, there came to the fore the new Adlabs Digital, with a posse of technocrats and those with sophisticated business acumen leading the initiative.

fibre-based distribution to the theatres- the fact that the company had laid out over 80,000 km of optical fibre cables, Adlabs had only to lay that short extra distance to the theatres to enable optical fibre cable-based distribution on a regular weekly basis. After experimenting all the configurations and combinations, the company went ahead with initiative and laid the ‘last-mile’ access to select theatres. It was then for the model to prove its worthiness for adoption. Adlabs Ahemdebad was the case in point and Mission Instabul was to prove its exhibition mission successful. It apparently did- simply because there was no human intervention in transport, and fortunately no natural calamity of the kind that shook the contours of the Gujarat capital few years ago. The success sounded the beginning of new Digital India!

The Present... Besides the maturing of technology, quality standards and the market readiness, it is essentially the infrastructural backbone strength that is playing critical in the new Adlabs Digital initiative. Evidently, optical fibre rates very high in transmission capabilities when compared to either terrestrial hard-disk model, or the celestial satellite-aided model. E-Cinema, and satellite-based models cannot transmit files of GB size faster. Particularly, when the issue is to send file sizes of around 200 GB, it becomes that much more difficult, even going by satellite.

“Two things made this possible,” says Patrick. “We feel the timing was just right for us, in terms of technology While E-Cinema model is out of question here, and quality standards maturing at an international level,” experiments were conducted with satellite-aided he explains, “secondly, we were ready internally, having distribution as well, says the Adlabs tested the E-Cinema already and gained Digital COO, but there are certain the necessary exposure and expertise to “We feel very strongly limitations like transponder bandwidth, go for the technologically superior that the fibre is the way weather abnormality etc; with fibre optic format.” for future. We believe cable, there are no such hassles. “With India is ahead of the ADAG being the backer gave the company satellite, we can give at most 70 mbps tremendous resources and freedom in world, and the rest of with entire transponder power,” he terms of exploring, and then exploiting the world will informs, “with fibre optic cable, we are the market readiness. Plus, the benefit eventually follow this starting with about 100 mbps connection of capitalising on the capability of Reliance path as well.” to the cinemas which is bare minimum; Communications for rolling out optical

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• TECHNOLOGY • we can go up to 10 times that speed, to one GB, which will never be possible with satellite.” That’s one big strength, giving a strong ground. The technology partners on the ground are Christie and Barco on the projection side, while Doremi, Qube, GDC, and Kodak are on the server side. “We are pretty happy with the performance of all of them, and we may choose to go deeper with one or two of these in the future,” says the COO, “but what is important here is that today we have reached a level in technology where we are satisfied that it works and effectively future proof. And, we are happy that we are through the test bed phase if ever we want to commercially roll out.” Providing a backend support for all these nodes is the FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft)-certified digital mastering facility at the company headquarters at Film City in Mumbai. The UK-based FACT’s endorsement means that the mastering facility is foolproof against any attempt of unauthorised access to content.

With the technology model in place, the company is now evolving a business model to take its initiative forward. Till now, it is conceptually similar to the virtual print fee (VPF) model widely accepted in Hollywood and India. However, that the company has till now been testing with the cinemas of its own group concern, the model would need some time to evolve as the company gears up to offer its services to other cinema chains as well. The commercial roll out is pretty much in the offing, and that’s what future holds for company, besides leveraging the full strengths of digital cinema like alternative content and product promos etc.

The Future...

On its own part, Adlabs Digital is aiming to have a network of 500 2K digital screens, including the 3D, by middle of 2010. This screen count also includes those acquired by Big Cinemas recently in the US, Malaysia, and Mauritius, and those that the group would buy out in “Digital cinema also means Indian future. That the Reliance cinema will find greater audience Communications also laid out, abroad through wider distribution of or in the process of laying, Indian movies in digital, not just submarine fibre cable optic The Exploit Bollywood but also the promisingly network spanning the globe, Begins... growing regional movies. Given the the infrastructure should enable the company cinema fact that there are significant movie As part of its trial installs at 21 nodes from across the world lovers abroad who want Indian of the ADAG-owned Big networked for delivery of content, I see a win-win situation for Cinemas (erstwhile Adlabs Films movie content. That Indian cinemas) chain, the company both, abroad and domestically.” movies are now gaining far also installed 2K digital 3D at the bigger grounds in overseas markets and have been Big Cinemas’ Palm Beach Gallaria at Vashi. “We had a churning out bigger revenues by the year, having or great success with the digital 3D test bed,” informs networking cinemas for Indian / Hollywood movies Patrick. According to him, the 3D digital version of The through fibre optic network would bring an immense Jounery to the Centre of the Earth ran for over eight economy of scale. However, none of the Big Cinemas weeks. “Having seen the success here, I think we will see theatres outside India are digitally equipped yet, the a great number of 3D digital installations next year,” exercise is, therefore, on hold for them. the COO exudes confidence. “With the number of 3D digital movies increasing to almost one every month, the proposition looks bright.”

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• TECHNOLOGY • clarifies Patrick, “however, India has been our priority. Once we establish the critical space here, we will start with the rest of the world as well.” The company expects to see a major push in 2009, but not sure about the precision of the count and time. That the conglomerate also has interests in movie production, distribution, with the kind of strengths built into its exhibition business, it appears all set to unveil a whole ‘big’ picture of its cinemas – quite like its ambitiously re-branded BIG Cinemas – for movies and alternative content delivered through its own network for its own chain as well as commercially to other chains across the world. That’s a real big picture indeed!

The ‘Fame’ of Digital India The digital dream of cinematic India is, indeed, coming to realisation in a ‘big’ and ‘fame’d fashion. Even as Adlabs Digital lounges itself to expand its network of 2K digital installs, Fame Cinemas, another Mumbaibased cinema major, and one of the founding members of multiplex India, has recently, coolly unveiled its big stake in the dream. The company has converted as many as four of its multiplexes – FameVashi, Fame-Malad, Fame-Ghatkopar and Fame-Pune – into all-2K-digital multiplexes, comprising a total of 20 screens. This makes Fame second largest digital cinema chain in the country, after Adlabs Digital. Implemented as part of the ambitious initiative taken up by Scrabble Entertainment, this digital exercise comprises Christie as projection component and Doremi as server component. The delivery model is, however, hard disk-based as of now. “Indian infrastructural framework has not evolved to facilitate something like Internet- or satellite-based downloads of movies,” says Rishi Negi, chief executive officer of Fame Cinemas. “We would definitely consider those options as and when they become accessible and viable,” he added. According to the Fame CEO, the group intends convert all it’s A-class cinemas into all-digital gradually, even as it rolls out all the new ventures to be fully 2K digital. “Fame has always made this point expressively clear,” he said, adding, “we did not believe in anything less than 2K level, for the strict considerations of quality and security. Here we go.” Under the Scrabble package, the cinema major will follow the VPF business model which is modelled on the lines of the existing model in Hollywood. The other exhibition chains to follow the Scrabble package are PVR (in Gurgaon), and Inox (at Nariman Point in Mumbai), who have one site each as all-digital. Both of them also have E-Cinema installs, besides the 2K model.

However, the one doing 2K digital and more, independently, as of now, is Sathyam Cinemas, the Chennai-based cinema major. The first exhibitor to do 2K digital install in India – way back in early 2005 with two 2K screens – Sathyam not only made the first impact, but also recently made one more stride by incorporating digital 3D in its currently running all-digital multiplex. In fact, the company’s forthcoming Imax theatres would be in the format of Imax digital 3D. “It’s a ‘no compromise’ approach,” clarifies Tan nGaronga, chief operating officer of Sathyam Cinemas. “Many of the initiatives are not driven by profitability, but more for passion, driven by a vision for doing something that is of a level of quality that will ensure that it won’t have to be replaced in the event of a competition,” Tan says, adding, “this is a method of getting things right the first time, and sometimes doing things that others may not be prepared to do.” (Read separate story: Passion, Vision and Mission) Another cinema operator from Chennai, projecting ambitious plans about going fully 2K digital for the existing as well as the future ventures is Mayajaal Entertainment. First multiplex, in the strict sense of the term, in South India - so to say - Mayajaal currently operates a 10-screen multiplex on the outskirts of Chennai. The company, which had actually expanded the previously existing 6-screen multiplex to the current 10 screens, has a very ambitious ditital roll-out plan on its expansion board. It not only intends to digitise all the 10 screens now, but also expand the current site to a total of 24 screens over two phases in two years time, with completely 2K digital projection. The format for the rest of the expansion plan is still to be freezed. With other cinema operators promising to take que from the excitement, it appears India’s truly 2K digital domain is fast evolving to full realisation. Let the dream come true!

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Tan nGaronga Chief Operating Officer Sathyam Cinemas

Ten years of contribution to the changing face of cinema in India and Asia is an

incredible accomplishment. Theatre World has been a great source of information both about the advancements in technology as well as in service and design of cinema concepts. We look forward to seeing another 10 years of quality cinema information dished out from the publication which, we hope, will help huge change in particularly, the Indian cinema exhibition landscape. On behalf of Sathyam Cinemas we would like to congratulate Theatre World on their tenth year anniversary. Keep up the good work

Ms. Hiral Kanakia Director Cinemax Limited

My association with Theatre World goes long back and I have always considered it as an entire encyclopaedia of Multiplex Industry. Its profoundness and depth of Articles is noteworthy and so is the editing style. Pictures and layouts speak volume of their detailing and the features are always up to the mark. It has seen the multiplex industry early from its inception days and it shows in their writing style. No wonder it has such a huge reader base. I congratulate the publication on its tenth anniversary, and wish it continues its successful journey for many more decades to come. Keep on the good work......

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• INDIAPLEXING •

Broadway Destination Early this year, Indian cinema exhibition industry saw the coming up of a new ‘Broadway,’ charting new routes of entertainment entrepreneurship. Taking time, as it did, for clearing the roadblocks that came its way, it is now expanding to create the destinations of entertainment. Soon, there would be new models of cinema- off the Broadway…TM looks at the way ahead

bulldoze its way; it pursued assiduously to clear the ground Corporate entities making their might into the cinematic to make its subsequent movement easy- which was why entertainment is nothing new today – with the birth of there were significant time laps before and after the first new millennium, much of the industry beginning to move ‘destination,’ the Broadway Vasai. under the umbrella of one or other corporate – so, when Housing Development Infrastructure Limited, a BSE-listed Having smoothened the stretches, HDIL, is now apparently construction leader from the steadfast on the Broadway Wadhawan Group (formerly cinema! It is now rearing to Indian industry as compared to Dheeraj Group), forayed into expand to newer, bigger the Asian or global industry... cinema entertainment business destinations. The group is The big, essential difference between with ‘Broadway’ brand of launching its second ‘brand’ new multiplexes early this year, it Indian cinema entertainment and that destination Broadway Kandivali wasn’t a big surprise. of the world at large is that movies at very shortly. This would be the centre of the business- quite unlike followed up soon by two more Given the promise the industry the world where other formats like food ventures at Borivali and Bhandupoffered – it still does – and the and pubs are pretty much part of the all in Mumbai. This would mean strengths the construction giant attainment of a critical space and carried, it looked the ‘Broadway’ fare. We are now beginning to grow, to shape, before the group lounges it tried to lay out would be an some extent on these lines. The growth forward to make the Broadway easy journey. However, rough pattern itself is another differentiator in wide and big, with an estimated and bumpy that the terrain is, it that the West and advanced East have count of 150 destination had its own jerks on its way to already grown, over its size whereas multiplexes in three years time. its destination Broadway! The India has just begun to grow. group did not, obviously, “Cinema launches are generically December 2008

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• INDIAPLEXING •

subject to clearing a maze of licenses and permissions,” clarifies Mukhesh Gupta, CEO of HDIL-Cinema Division. “There are roughly about a dozen government departments overall which will consume precious lot of time,” he explains, “having said that, we have been able to clear this for most of our coming up ventures, which is why you can see some quick launches from HDIL in the coming months.” According to him, that the group launched as many as 13 screens in less than an year is said to be an achievement in itself. As it moves forward, it expects to pick up momentum and register wider and faster presence. The group is not fazed by the fact that a significant lap of its three-year time frame had gone by, and the target is big. That the estimated screen count also includes acquisition of existing cinemas, besides its own ventures, and the much of the necessary ground work had already been done, it is confident of realising its goal on time. “Our growth will be both organic and inorganic,” informs Gupta. “We are a little aggressive in clinching deals with property owners. We see the possibility of realising our targets.”

Irony or Opportunity? It may be a little intriguing that the group intends to pursue its aggression now, at a time when the market is in a state of irony. All the high points experienced in the recent months have plummeted; big investment plans pushed into abeyance; and expansion plans squeezed. HDIL, however, is seeing opportunity in Irony. “In fact it is helping us pursue our plans,” informs Mukhesh. According to him, the group enjoys two specific advantages as compared to the other players in the fray. One, that the market has now, actually, “come back to its reality terms – down from the hyped flight of the last few years” – and two, the group being a developer by itself doesn’t have to invest in whatever rental the market commands. “It’s a huge saving” for him which enables him to pursue further, and “improvise on his offerings.” Capitalising the same advantages, says Mukhesh, the group has not only clinched a line of ‘strategic’ deals, but also created a quality talent pool of highly qualified professional teams. And this would help him in creating better venues as well as offer better services compared to the competition.

“For any venture in this business, few things have to be One of the biggest and iconic symbols of Broadway right and, more on that, distinctive. Two important aspects entertainment destinations is said to be shaping up at here are the good location and good services,” says the Kurla on the outskirts of Mumbai. Broadway boss. “We began with With over 40 lakh square feet Vasai venture some six months area, this venture is claimed to A good movie or good promoago, and still we do not see any be one of the biggest in the which will sell the cinema... competition there. We are now country, if not in Asia, and will Unquestionably, it is good movie. A good coming up with Kandivali, and have a 15-screen multiplexpromo can only ensure a good opening, a Borivali ventures where there is again, one of the biggest in Asia. good weekend, but it cannot salvage a some competition, but we believe This is said to take two years time ours would be better off by virtue bad, or even an ordinary movie. to be on stream commercially. of their location. Our USP right Having said that, marketing buzz is That India is rearing to have now is our location. We are megaplexes by around the same essential in these days of noise and adding services to that.” time, Broadway, according to its chaos. People wouldn’t even hear, let Thanks to the upheavals in the CEO, is well-placed to be in the alone turning to you, if you don’t services and hospitality industrymidst of the mega cinema make buzz about your work. So, their loss, in one sense, has come entertainment in the country. promos are required, but content is to Broadway’s gain! The “That’s how our expansion plan more important to buzz it around. company had been able to draw is envisaged to be,” he says. its human resource talent from TM-34

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• INDIAPLEXING • the suffering industries of aviation, hospitality and such other streams. It’s not that the talent suddenly became cheap – just like the realty – that group belted it. That the group enjoys savings on rentals, by virtue of being a developer itself, enables it afford the pricy talent pool. “This will in turn help us strategise our offerings and churn out better services and eventually stand out to gain on consumer goodwill for repeated visits,” explains Gupta.

Strengths and weaknesses of Indian cinema... India’s strength is its people. It has the world’s highest attendances, three billion a year. If they are offered a good product, they will return you with flying colours, like some of the good movies in the recent past. On the tangent, the weakness of failing to provide them with good content is a big bane. We do not get good content very often.

Making the Broadway Destination In a demanding age of consumer India looking at every aspiring entertainment venue to be different, Broadway claims to create specialty ambiences within and outside the cinema auditorium. On each multiplex venue, it seeks to dedicate – as it did at Kandivali – one screen for plush recliner and / or sofa seating. These measures are aimed at inducing the patrons to sink into a luxurious comfort that is rarely, or not experienced elsewhere. More, having seen seating luxuries are also becoming common, Broadway cinemas is bringing in something very elite. In the fourscreen Kandivali venue, it created a speciality lounge attached to the two premium auditoria, where it intends to serve wine and bear. “We have already made an application to the government, and we are very sure we will get the permission,” clarifies Gupta. “Simply put, it is a proposition of ‘don’t come to watch movies, come here just have the experience once.” Probably with this intention of creating elite ambience, the Kandivali venue’s premium class is named Imperial- moving away from the now common Gold and Platinum nomenclature. “Soft liquor is only one of the many elite services that are customised for the Imperial patrons,” Broadway cinema chief elaborates. “There will be at least six to seven speciality menu items for which orders are

taken by the trained attendants, from the patron’s seat itself, and served.” According to him, Broadway’s effort is to blend best possible service and entertainment options into a distinctively pleasant ambience of interior décor and technical design that comply with the specs of movie watching.

As a case in a point, the distinctiveness of the architectural ambience at the Imperial class in Kandivali multiplex is borne by the incorporation of metallic interiors. Unthinkable for a theatre interior, it was attempted as a speciality initiative. Designed by the Mumbai-based architectural virtuoso Eranna Yekbote (of Era Architects), the auditorium had to explore the calibrating genius of Ram of R & S Electronics, and Jal Mistry, the legendary acoustician- to make it as acoustically perfect as it should be in any conventional style of fabric-covered wall panelling. “We not only bucked the trend,” Gupta gloats, “probably, have set a trend.”

How about the DCI-level 2K digital, and the 3D... We take a wait and watch stand. We believe India’s entertainment value is not as high as Hollywood. India ranks high, only in number of movies a year, but not number of prints- no movie crosses 1,000 prints, as against around 4,000 prints in Hollywood. Our ticket pricing is low, and other accessory services are limited only to urban centres. Going full 2K digital at this point in time is an expensive proposition which, in our view, does not have a viable business model. May be few years down the line, when the cost factor comes down to accessible level, we would contemplate doing that. It is therefore, wait and watch situation for us.

The sound and projection comprising Strong projectors, Pulz speakers, and Dolby processors had been installed by R & S. Besides this traditional model, Broadway has also incorporated the UFO Moviez’ E-Cinema systems. UFO would be providing their E-Cinema systems to all the screens that Broadway is operating, or will launch in the coming months. With best possible locations and cinematic luxuries, supported by best blend of services and talent pool, Broadway hopes to live upto its name in entertainment.

Expanding the Broadway Broadway’s roadmap of 150 screens in three years includes places or towns near the cities like Chandigarh, Hyderabad and such others. Not exactly in the metros, these venues are away from them, at an approachable distance. Next in line, is probably, the Borivili Broadway. We will look forward to that.

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Arijit Dutta President Eastern Motion Picture Association

Theatre World introduced a decade back a new genre that has come a long way in sensitizing exhibitors, producers and new entrants to the industry about the latest developments, possible infrastructural facilities, new equipment and theatres built. The Industry did not have such a magazine earlier, and Theatre World expedited a path breaking trend. The improvement in quality of cinemas across the country has a lot to owe to the magazine. Theatre World is also the one, which has reposed confidence in our heritage single screens, and, unlike most new corporates in the industry today, gave the single screens the due respect. This understanding of the ground level industry economics is also what makes the publication a must for the industry as a whole Our full support and sentiments lie with Theatre World on this occasion of its 10th anniversary, and we wish it continues the responsible work it’s been carrying on so well.

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• SPECIAL FEATURE •

Cinema: The Story of

Melodies & Maladies The story of of cinema exhibition in India, in a sense, is almost synonymous with the story of Indian cinema itself. For, the story of making a cinema is as intriguing and exciting as making a movie itself! Being the platform of movie screening, the cinemas shared all those thrills and chills - sometimes the ills too - of the movies and their making. There had been moments of glories and glooms, pride and prejudice, and, melodies and maladies. Every individual who likes and loves cinematic entertainment will find an association with this story, in some format or other, for a simple reason that each one of us have visited a cinema theatre at least once and loved a particular movie or the way it is presented- which is why cinema theatres have always enjoyed a loyal audiences, even at critical times of their existence. Theatre Magic (integral part of Theatre World), traversed ten persevering years, in service of this entertaining industry- which, it believes, is a momentary occasion. With a view to marking the occasion with what we consider a tribute to the industry, we present some glimpses into the history of cinema exhibition in India.

1907

Jamshedji Framji Madan opened the Elphinstone Picture Palace in Calcutta, the first of his cinema chain – which was also India’s first permanent movie house – what today’s Kolkatans know as Chaplin Cinema. (Read separate story on Murder of a Heritage Cinema)

1908 1910 1911

Abdulallay Esoofally, a Singaporean travelling showman started exhibiting in India

Dadasaheb Phalke attended the screening of The Life of Christ at P.B. Mehta’s American-Indian Cinema, and inspired by that, decided to become a filmmaker himself

Anandi Bose, Debi Bose and others started Aurora Cinema Co. in Bengal, showing films in tents as part of a variety bill. The Coronation Durbar of King George V held in Delhi filmed by several Indians like S N Patankar, Hiralal Sen, and shown in Madan Theatres

1913 1914

Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra - 3700 feet long - opened on 21st April to a select audience. It opened commercially on 3rd May in Bombay’s Coronation Cinematograph (Cinema).

• Raghupathi Venkiah and R S Prakash built Madras’s first permanent cinema, The Gaiety. • Phalke showed his first three features - Raja Harishchandra, Mohini Bhasmasur and Satyavan Savitri in London.

1915 1916 1917

First South Indian feature - Gopal Krishna - was made by R. Nataraja Mudaliar. Universal Pictures set up Hollywood’s first Indian Agency. • Jamshedji Framji Madan made his first feature film Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra in Calcutta. • Phalke made a short film about filmmaking- How Films Are Made.

1912

Two amateurs N G Chitre and R G Torney attempted a narrative film about 1500 feet long – based on a play by Pundalik. December 2008

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• SPECIAL FEATURE •

1918

• The Indian Cinematograph Act, modelled on that of the British, defined the term of cinema licensing, besides censorship.

1925

• Fatima Begum, probably the first Indian woman producer, started her production company with Bulbul-eParastan, as debut film.

• Phalke’s Hindustan Film Company established. Ram Vanvas, the first Indian Serial with a length of 20,000 feet, was made by Patankar.

1919 1920

• Dhiren Ganguli is expelled by the Nizam from Hyderabad for exhibiting Razia Begum. • India’s first periodical exclusively devoted to cinema Mouj Majah, made in Gujarati, was launched in Bombay by J K Dwivedi. • Kamala Movietone started in Lahore.

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1926 1927

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Foundation of the Punjab Film Corporation in Lahore. • Indian Kinema Arts Studio started in Calcutta. Government of India announced appointment of Committee of Enquiry, The Indian Cinematograph Committee. • Film journal Movie Mirror started in Madras. Simultaneously, Kinema movie journal began in Bombay.

1928

• The Indian Cinematograph Committee brought out its report. • First Malayalam feature film – Vigathakumaram – made by J C Daniel released.

• Entertainment tax of 12 per cent was levied, apparently as a second instance in the country, in Bombay. • The Saurashtra Kinemograph was set up in Rajkot. The elite literary journal Bharati - founded in 1877 carried a serialised story on the history of Bengali cinema.

1924

• The Madurai Bala Shanmughananda Sabha came onto the scene to dominate pre-independence Tamil cinema exhibition.

• Entertainment Tax on film exhibition was levied, probably, for the first time, in Calcutta. • Rewashankar Pancholi started Empire Film Distributors in Karachi and Lahore, importing American films.

1923

• The first Indo-German co-production The Light of Asia was released abroad to a great critical acclaim.

• Film Censor Boards set up in Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Rangoon.

• Nala Damayanti, the first International Co-production was made. Suchet Singh, who got trained in Hollywood released Shakuntala starring Dorothy Kingdom.

1922

• Sharda Film, the first company to introduce stunt film genre, came onto the scene.

Baburao Painter started the Maharashtra Film company at Kolhapur. Dwarkadas Sampat forms the Kohinoor Film Company.

• Ardheshir Irani starts his first studio, Star Film Company.

• Savkari Pash, the first major film adaptation of the social reform novel, made by Baburao Painter, hits the big screen in Bengal and elsewhere.

1929

• Early signs of The Great Depression showed off- Wall Street crashed ending negotiations about a major Hollywood expansion into India. • On the tangent, spurt in Indian cinema entrepreneurship began. Noted studios - Prabhat Film Company came up in Kolhapur; Ranjit Movietone in Bombay; British Dominion Films Studio and Aurora Film Corporation in Calcutta; and General Pictures Corporation in Madras. • The first sound feature film in India – Universal Pictures’ Melody of Love – released at the Elphinstone Picture Palace.


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• SPECIAL FEATURE •

1930

• Bioscope, India’s first popular Bengali film weekly launched by Sailajananda Mukherjee. Bioscope reported on Hollywood, Bombay and Calcutta film industries, and published (p)reviews, industrial surveys, besides essays on technical and aesthetic issues on cinemas. It was, therefore, understood to throw invaluable light on cinema building.

1935

• New Theatres’ Devdas – starring Kundanlal Saigal, and directed by P.C. Barua - became reference point in Hindi and Bengali Cinema. • New Theatres’ Dhoop Chaon brought in India’s first playback singing. • The Quetta earthquake’s after effects were filmed by P.V. Pathy.

• Gubbi Veeranna started production with the Gubbi-Karnataka Films Corporation at the Malleshwaram Studios in Bangalore.

1931

• Alam Ara, India’s first talkie movie released.

• First All-India Motion Picture Convention was held.

• First Trade journal started by Motion Picture Society of India.

1936

• B.N. Sircar founded New Theatres.

• Metro Goldwyn Mayor – Popularly called MGM – began planning building its classic, Metro signature cinemas in India • Sohrab Modi and Rustom Modi start Minerva Movietone. • The Bengal Motion Picture Association formed in Calcutta.

1932

• The second All-India Motion Picture Convention held in Madras.

• First talkie feature in Gujarati Narasinh Mehta - released. • The East India Film Co. started in Calcutta,pioneering Bengali, Tamil and Telegu filmmaking.

1937

• The Motion Picture Society of India (MPSI) set up to represent the Indian Film Industry.

1933

• Prabhat Studio’s Sairandhri processed and printed in Germanybecame India’s first colour film.

• Naujawan, India’s first songless film, made by J.B.H. Wadia, was released.

1938

• Several movie production houses emerged onto the ShowBiz scenario. • India’s first air-conditioned cinema Regal opened in Bombay.

1934

• Bombay Talkies was established by Himansu Rai and Devika Rani.

• A new, classical era of cinema building began in India with the emergence of Metro Cinema in Bombay and Calcutta simultaneously. Both the cinemas were known for their opulence in design and luxury in services, (besides, not too-well-taken division of classes) (Read Theatre World September 2006). • Many cinemas followed suit.

• East India Film Company’s Seeta, directed by Debaki Bose, shown at Venice Film Festival. Seeta Bibaha, first sound features in Oriya, released. • Bhakta Dhruva (Kannada), and Seeta Kalyanam made by Vel Pictures, the first talkie films were made in Madras.

• Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) founded in Bombay.

• South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce formed in Madras. • Indian Motion Picture Distributors Association set up in Bombay.

1939

• Indian Film Industry celebrated its silver jubilee. • Indian Motion Picture Congress organised in Bombay. • B N Reddy set up Vauhini Pictures. • S S Vasan set up Gemini

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• SPECIAL FEATURE •

1940 1941 1942 1943

Film Advisory Board set up in Bombay to mobilize public support through war propaganda films. Wadia Movietone’s Court Dancer (English) first released at Metro in Bombay, and then sent to the USA.

• Government imposes control of supply of raw stock. Exhibition of approved propaganda films made compulsory under Defence of India Rules 44A.

• K Ramnoth founded the Cine Technicians Association (CTA) of South India. • Film Advisory Committee appointed by government to regulate distribution of raw film. Increase in Entertainment Tax in Bombay, Madras, United Province and Central Province.

• Indian Cinematograph 1918 amended to include new censorship classification for ‘adult’ and ‘unrestricted’ exhibitions of films. • Films Division is set up.

1950

1947

• Control of distribution of raw film stock removed.

1951 1952

• Government revives the production of documentaries and newsreels. • S.S. Vasan’s Chandralekha became one of the biggest hits. • Ajit made on 16mm Kodachrome and blown up to 35mm in cinemas. • Nehru announces a freeze on construction of movie theatres.

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• First International Film Festival held in India traveling to Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi and Madras.

• West Pakistan bans import of Indian Films.

1953

• The Cinematograph Act amended extending the power of various authorities to suspend exhibition of certified films. • The Film Federation of India accepts an Advertising Code. The Trade Weekly Trade Guide is started.

1954

• Indian Film Festival held in the Soviet Union. • K.A. Abbas’s film Munna released as the second songless film in the country.

• Satyajit Ray, Chidananda Das Gupta and others started the Calcutta Film Society.

1948

Formation of Central Board of Film Censors with B N Sircar representing the film industry.

• Parliament passes the Cinematograph Act of 1952 replacing the 1918 Act with little changes.

Dharti ke Laal, produced by Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) and directed by K A Abbas, won critical acclaim at home and abroad. • Vijay Bhatt’s Ram Rajya (1943), A R Kardar’s Shah Jehan (1946), and V.Shantaram’s Dr. Kotnis ki Amar Kahani shown at Canadian National Exhibition in Totonto.

• Rai Bahadur Chuni Lall, President of IMPAA and MPSI died. • Pakistan Government levies a tax of Rs 1 per foot on all imported Indian films.

• Death of Dadasaheb Phalke.

1945 1946

• Government re-introduced compulsory exhibition of approved documentary films. Countrywide closure of cinemas in protest against the Government’s taxation policy. • Entertainment Tax is raised to 50 per cent in the Central Provinces and 75 per cent in West Bengal.

Production hit due to shortages of raw stock. Government restricts lengths of films to 11,000 feet to conserve stock for war propaganda films.

• Kismet, one of the biggest hits in Indian film history released.

1944

1949

• Compulsory exhibition of approved films (government propaganda films) in Madras is declared unlawful by the Supreme Court.

1955

• Pather Panchali directed by Satyajit Ray has its world premiere at Museum of Modern Art, New York. • The High Court at Andhra Pradesh grants an interim stay on the law of compulsory exhibition of approved films, and also on the infamous show tax.


ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

• SPECIAL FEATURE •

1956

• Government of India refused to make its approved compulsory propaganda films available free of charge to exhibitors. • The freeze on construction of new cinemas in Bombay lifted.

1957

• Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito (1956) won the Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival. K A Abbas made the first Indo-Soviet co-production Pardesi; RK Films’ Jagte Raho won Grand Prix at the Karlovy Vary Festival. • Thangam Cinema, the largest theatre in Asia - with 1900 seats was built. (It closed in mid-90s, and GV Films acquired it recently for conversion to multiplex city)

1958 1959

Mother India won Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film but lost to Fellini’s Nights of Caberia by a solitary vote.

• Pather Panchali runs for over seven months at the Fifth Avenue Playhouse, New York and sets a record for foreign films released in the United States.

1962 1963

The Indian Motion Picture Export Corporation (IMPEC) formed.

1964

• National Film Archive of India was set up in Pune. • A Report on Indian Cinema for UNESCO by Jerzy Toeplitz, then president of FIAF, was submitted.

1965 1966 1967 1968

• India’s first film in cinemascope, Kaagaz ke Phool released.

1960

• K Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam hit the screen after almost 10 years in the making; turned out to be a resounding success.

1961

The International Film Festival of India turns competitive. Karnataka initiated a scheme to subsidize all films made in the State. The initial subsidy was Rs 50,000 for a B&W and Rs 1,00,000 for a colour film. Around the World, first 70mm Indian film released.

• Bombay Cinema Houses close in protest against Maharshtra State taxation policy. • Ramakrishna 70mm – India’s first and only theatre with an RCC ceiling built in Hyderabad by (Late) N T Rama Rao, the Telugu movie legend, and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Regarded as one of the best cinemas ever built in the country to this day, the theatre was remarkable for its interior décor and acoustics, judging from the point of its RCC roof. The theatre also had a twin, Ramakrishna 35mm that heralded building twin theatres in the country.

• Ranadheera Kanteerava, the first big Kannada hit released, establishing its star, Rajkumar.

• Shiela 70mm, claimed to be India’s first 70mm theatre, and arguably, one of the most distinguished cinemas in India, if not the East and West, was commissioned in New Delhi. The theatre not only boasted the most celebrated making - with international expertise - but also the audience, with the ‘makers of India,’ becoming its patrons.

Pakistan banned Indian films in East Pakistan hitting the Bengali Cinema hard.

• A manifesto for New Indian Cinema was issued by Mrinal Sen and Arun Kaul, advocating a state sponsored author-cinema.

1969

• Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome in Hindi became a trendsetter for low budget offbeat films. • First Satyajit Ray retrospective held at the Cinematheque, Paris.

• Mrinal Sen’s Baishey Sravan shown at National Film Theatre in London draws great critical acclaim.

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1970

• Pattabai Rama Reddy’s Sanskara became path breaker for low budget Kannada cinema.

• FFC and Indian Motion Picture Export Corporation merged to form the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).

• Devika Rani became the first recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.

1971

Agreement between the Indian Govt and the MPEAA allowed to expire.

1972

• First art house cinema opened by the FFC. • Do Gaz Zameen ke Neeche established the Ramsay brothers and the horror genre in Hindi.

1973

• The FFC becomes channelising agency for import and distribution of raw stock. The Government imposes 250 per cent import duty on raw film. • Shyam Benegal’s Ankur became a commercial success- heralding the middle-of-the-road cinema of the independently financed, and commercially designed art-house movie.

1974 1975

1978 1980

• A new agreement with the MPEAA means that US films can be imported again.

The Orissa Film Development Corporation announced financing of Janta Cinema Houses in rural and semi-urban areas. • The Lotus Cinema, hired by FFC, became Bombay’s only venue for exhibiting art-movies, beginning with Bimal Dutt’s Kasturi, that was actually made in 1978.

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• Indian Film Industry celebrated golden jubilee of the Indian Talkie. • Formation of the short-lived Indian Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science (IAMPAS).

1982

1983 1985 1986

Strict censorship of films during the Emergency. The Committee on Public Undertaking attacked FFC art-film policy.

• Prarthana, claimed to be the world’s first beach side drive-in theatre, set up outside Chennai.

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1981

The Film Festival of India becomes an annual event.

• Sholay, India’s first film in 70mm stereophonic sound, and India’s biggest cult film released, breaking box-office records.

1976

• Independent Filmmakers started the Forum for Better Cinema.

T Subbirami Reddy constructed twin theatres Maheshwari-Parameshwari in Hyderabad, regarded at the time as among the best in Asia. For, they represented a different genre of glitz that was marked by first instance of using elevators in an Indian cinema, and fancied ceiling architecture. Unprecedented spurt in cinema building in Hyderabad- as many as 50 new cinemas came up while an even number took seeding in and around Hyderabad. Spurt in cinema building continued in Andhra, and spread to other states. Landmark movie houses emerged all over the South. • India’s first 6-track stereophonic sound track movie, Simhasanam released in Andhra. It was later remade into Hindi Sinhasan. Theatres needed to upgrade to screen this movie. • Death of Smita Patil.

1987

• For the first time in the talkie era, a silent film ‘Pushpak’ was successfully screened and achieved good market laurels. • The NFDC started the quarterly journal Cinema in India.

1988

• The journals Cinemaya (a quarterly on Asian film) and Deep Focus started. • Death of Raj Kapoor.


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1989 1990

The release of 4-track stereophonic sound introduced in ‘ Maine Pyar Kiya’

• The first Bombay International Film Festival for Documentaries and Short Films held. • Satyajit Ray presented the Legion d’ honneur by French President Francois Mitterand in Calcutta.

1992

1998

1999

• Film industry accorded the legitimate industry status qualifying it for institutional finance.

• The birth of Indian multiplexing. The Era of Change began. (Read the box) • Elizabeth won several Oscar nominations including one for Best Film.

• Hum Aapke Hain Kaun declared the biggest hit in the history of Indian cinema. • Jurassic Park dubbed into Hindi and turned into big success paving the way for dubbed versions of other Hollywood blockbusters.

Aditya Chopra made his debut with the mega hit Dilwaale Dulhania Le Jayenge.

• Hyderabad Blues, the small independent film became the sleeper hit of the year paving the way for the production of a series of low budget different films.

• Jurassic Park, the first DTS movie released in Indian cinemas creating new box office records • Satyajit Ray awarded the Oscar for Lifetime Achievement and the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.

1994

1995

2000

A trail-blazing entrepreneurship in Indian cinema building began.

The First Cinema Show

Indian Screen Number Vs the World

The first cinema show in India was arranged by the agents of two French brothers, Louis and August Lumiere, pioneers of cinematography in France, at the Watson Hotel in Bombay on July 7, 1896. The show was Marvel of the Century.

India is one of the largest film producers in the world with over 300 Hindi movies and 600 regional movies produced annually. We are also one of the largest movie watchers in the world, with over three billion movie tickets sold annually. However, we are also amongst the most under-screened nations in the world- we currently have only ~ 13,000 screens which less than 13 screens per million people - as against 60 in Europe and over 100 in the US - out of over a billion population. A recent UNESCO study shows that India is a market for 20,000 screens today.

First Cinema Advertisement The first cinema advertisement in India appeared in the Times of India, Bombay, on July 7, 1896, which carried details of the living photographic pictures in lifesize reproductions by Messrs Lumiere Brothers.

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Sanjay Agarwal Director, Monee & Co.

Cinema exhibition in India, has always been a complex and unorganised industry segment in our country. The sudden growth of this industry in the recent years, spurred by changing technologies and modern multiplexes, demanded comprehensive and genuine information about all aspects of this industry, not only from India but from across the globe. And this is precisely the niche which this publication called Theatre World has fulfilled. Providing convincingly genuine information about the trends, products, technologies and processes, the magazine has quickly emerged as a respected publication, looked up to by the industry. It is heartening to note that a publication of this nature has come a long way, now completing 10 years of existence. I congratulate Theatre World and its team, and wish it the very best in all its endeavors.

Senthil Kumar Co-Founder Real Image Technologies Ltd.

Theatre World is a high quality magazine that makes an important contribution to the Indian cinema industry with articles and news that are relevant, timely and informative. Our region needs such good publications as information is the most important resource for a theatre, especially in these times of change, from analog to digital sound, and now from 35mm to digital cinema. We are happy to note that the publication has completed 10 years of industry existence, and we wish them, on this important occasion of 10th anniversary, many more years of success. We will support the efforts of Theatre World in whatever manner we can.

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The 10 Big Years:

Perfect 10? For the Indian cinema exhibition, the last ten years have, arguably, more impactful (and eventful too) than the industry's entire history of 90-plus years. It saw both thrills and chills, ecstasies and agonies, sops and sobs. Having apparently gained the momentum on par with the advanced markets, it is now all set to define its own growth path, its own direction & dimension. A quick look at the what the last 10 years have brought to Indian cinema exhibition:

1999

– The beginning of the big changes in Indian cinema.

Multiplexing took seeding in New Delhi with nerve and verve. Priya Cinema company, in technical collaboration with Australian cinema multinational Village Roadshow, launched PVR brand of multiplexes. This marked the first foreign entry into Indian cinema, in Independent India. (Pre-Independent India had the Metro in Mumbai and Kolkata)

India’s first THX cinema Star City came onto the ShowBiz scene in Mumbai. Designed by Singapore-based Total Integrated Design (TID), the cinema was a refreshingly new visual and aural experience to the movie patrons

2000 •

– The zooming of the multiplexing boom

Led by PVR Cinemas, New Delhi witnessed a spurt of new genre of cinemas all over, and in rapid fire. Box office records swelled enviably, alluring many an entrepreneur into the business

2001

– The arrival of Imax, and the world’s largest dome theatre

Manmohan Shetty, the chief of Adlabs Films (now Big Cinemas, under Reliance ADAG) not only brought the Imax large format cinema to India, but also earned the credential of building the world’s largest dome theatre- in Mumbai

The development also gave a big momentum to the already shaping up multiplexing in the Western India region

City Pride multiplex came up in Pune, the first in Maharashtra

Corporatisation of Indian cinema took seeding. Emergence of a strong lobby to propagate multiplexing in the country

Single screens began fading away

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Mukhesh Gupta CEO HDIL (Cinema)

Indian cinema exhibition is a growing industry. When it began its journey – roughly a over a decade ago – towards higher level of sophistication, breaking away from the shackles of archaic notions and regimes, that was actually fuelled by compelling market developments following the global exposure of a liberalised economy, the need of the hour was to have medium that could provide the critical links to organised growth. Thankfully for the industry, fulfilling this need on time, was the coming up of Theatre World. Theatre World is a first reference to everyone related to the cinema exhibition industry, in some way or the other. The flood of information that is laced with analyses, thought provoking ideas, and latest updates about products and processes from around the world makes the publication stand apart as a distinctive showcase of the industry. On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, I congratulate Theatre World, and wish it continues the commendable work.

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ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

• SPECIAL FEATURE •

2002

– Year of Opposites: the Big SWOT

Multiplexing took beating out if its own over-ambitious designs. Ahmedabad, regarded as the ‘city of multiplexes,’ bore the brunt- primarily due to own-made, unscrupulous multiplexing, and secondarily due to nature-made calamities

Single-screen industry found itself at its lowest ebb

Emergence of corporate cinema chains with pan-India interests

Formation of Multiplex Association of India. Headquartered in Mumbai, it had five founding members- Deepak Ahser (Inox), Manmohan Shetty (Adlabs), Shravan Shroff (Fame), Atul Goel (E-City), and Prakash Chaphalkar (City Pride)

Art Deco Theatre Gitanjali got renovated outside Kolkata

Emergence of second Imax theatre at the Science City outside Ahmedabad

India’s second THX, and first from a multiplex chain, set up in Pune, by Inox

2003

– Cometh E-Cinema

Manmohan Shetty launched E-Cinema concept in Maharashtra, beginning with two in Kolhapur district

24 Carat multiplex, with India’s third THX-certified cinema came up in Mumbai

2004

– New concepts in technology cinema

E-Cinema entrepreneurship on the expansion

3D Plus briefly showed up, before disappearing

Plaza cinema – one of the most revered Heritage cinemas in the country retrofitted into multiplex. Designed by New Delhi-based Morphogenesis, the cinema brought to the fore the concept of ‘contemporary minimalism’

First glitz of multiplexing in the East- with 89 Cinemas’ Chillax (??)

Indian cinema (exhibition) gets a rare honour on international platform- Ajjay Bijli of PVR honoured with Special Achievement Award at CineAsia 2004 in Bangkok

2005

– Cometh RDX- The Real Digital eXperience

Chennai-based Sathyam Cinemas made history by incorporating Hollywood and DCI-approved 2K digital cinema in two of its five screens in Chennai. Thereby shown the way for new dynamism, beginning from South

Chennai-based Real Image Technologies broke new ground with its Qube Cinema- India’s first indigenous digital cinema server

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Chennai-based Pyramid Saimira Theatres Limited (PSTL) raised the banner of ‘indigenous E-Cinema’ with ambitious plans

India’s largest multiplex by screen count came onto the Showbiz: a 11-screen multiplex by PVR in Bangalore

2006

– Technology Leaps

For the first time, a convention on digital cinema held in Mumbai

Qube Cinema notched up yet another new sophistication. Released servers for both D-Cinema and ECinema

E-Cinema emerged with corporate strengths and circuitous expansion plans. As many as four players with high ambition came up

PVR Talkies emerged onto the Showbiz scene with E-Cinema as the technology model

Multiplexing gained ostentatious proportions- in pursuit of one-up manship; began adding complimentary entertainment options, but with high degree of glitz

2007

– Year of IPOs & Explosive Targets

The year saw the (probable) culmination of IPOs from cinema exhibition companies. As many as six companies – Inox, PVR, Fame, Cinemax, Brahma Interactive, and Pyramid Saimira – have tapped capital market funds for expansion

Notwithstanding the flush of funds from capital market, entrepreneurs came up with truly ambitious cinema plans. An aggregate of projected cinema count presented an unbelievable figure of over 4000 screens in four-five years

The explosive targets are marked by incredible projects: a 21-screen multiplex in Bangalore by Innovative Film City; all-digital multiplexes in Chennai and elsewhere; Imax large format theatres et al

2008

– The Digital India

Emergence of all-digital multiplexes. While AGAG’s Big Cinemas took the lead by converting its Wadala multiplex into all-digital, PVR followed with making its Amibience multiplex in Gurgaon all digital

Chennai’s Sathyam Cinemas went one step further by incorporating India’s first 3D digital

Large chunks of single-screen cinemas came under the digital umbrella, signalling a paradigm shift in exhibition format

Indian entrepreneurship began exploring foreign fortunes. While Big Cinemas created its presence in the USA and Mauritius, Pyramid Saimira forayed to Malaysia and China

Biggest honour thus far: Big Cinemas (to be) honoured as the Exhibitor of the Year at CineAsia 2008 in Macau. Tushar Dhingra, the company COO will receive the honour on 11 December 2008

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Shiela 70mm:

A Class By Itself A new era in the world of entertainment in India began on January 12, 1961, with the inauguration of Shiela Theatre '70' at New Delhi. Shiela Pioneered in bringing international standards in building design, viewer comfort, theatre maintenence and above all - in the art and science of movie presentation. Through this span of over 40 years, Shiela has remained at the top and endeavours to continue to do so. The Beginning

To put the patron in the 'picture'

Construction of a superb motion picture theatre at the site had been visualised as early as 1937, but World War II and subsequent shortage of building materials delayed the development for a few decades. This proved to be a boon in disguise for it enabled Shiela to benefit from the post-war technological advances in the west.

Everything at Shiela Theatre '70' has been designed with the patron in mind. It was out a strong conviction that once the patron enters the theatre, the ambience should make the patron forget the stresses and strains of the everyday life, and fully enjoy the drama and spectacle on the screen.

Plans Revised In New Delhi the construction of Shiela Theatre was about to commence. Detailed plans for the structure had been drawn up and approved, when half a world away in New York, DC Kaushish, Propreitor of Shiela Theatre, witnessed the successful commercial trials of 70mm. At once he decided to introduce this system of film projection in India. However, bringing 70mm to Shiela Theatre meant a revision of the entire construction plan. Shiela Theatre was to have by far the largest cinema screen in India and no architect and technician here appeared familiar with the job. However, Kaushish was fortunate in securing the services of Ben Schlanger - world authority on motion picture theatre and auditorium design - who had been the creative man responsible for such haughty global landmarks as the United Nations General Assembly Hall and Conference Rooms, Metropolitan Opera and New York State Theatre, Lincoln Centre and Kennedy Cultural Centre, Washington D.C., and Colonial Williamsburg Twin-Theatres. Schlanger collaboratred with Professor Cyril Harris of Columbia University, New York,to design the accoustics of the Theatre. Fred. J. Pfieff, formerly Chief Engineer of ToddAO Corporation and NORELCO, New York, was the technical consultant. On the Indian side, Master Sathe and Kothari of New Delhi provided their expertise as the overall project architects. S. Ajit Singh took charge of the construction of the building and B.A. Mistry and International Talkie Equipment Co., took charge of equipment installation. With Ben Schlanger as the chief consultant, the theatre was redesigned from scratch, with the object of transforming the make-believe into reality. To bring illusion closer to reality, the latest six-track sound system was chosen, which has now been upgraded to Dolby Digital sound. TM-52

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Built on large premises, Shiela had been planned functionally to provide the movie audience maximum comfort. The moment patrons enter the cinema, they are welcomed into large, spacious, and artistically designed and maintained lobbies. There is a separate foyer on the first floor. Inside the auditorium, there are luxurious pushback seats, which have been so arranged that one viewer does not obstruct the view of the other. The patron neither have to look down nor crane his/her neck up, to gain a sight at the giant screen. To create an illusion of depth, a third dimension had actually been introduced into the screen by curving it slightly. The screen extends from the floor to the ceiling and there is no stage to act as a barrier. The interior decor had been kept simple yet attractive. The off-white-coloured walls are so designed as to eliminate cross-reflection from the screen. In Shiela, arguably, nothing comes between the patrons and their favourite movie.

Distinguished Patrons Shiela has played host to many important dignitaries, and illustrious Statesmen. Two of India's Presidents (Late V.V. Giri and Late Dr. Zakir Hussain) had been amongst the large number of distinguished patrons who have enjoyed seeing films of their choice at the theatre. All the Vice-Presidents of India, Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Mrs. Indira Gandhi had been frequent Shiela patrons. Apart from a large number of Indian glitterati such as Amitabh Bachchan, Amrish Puri, Dev Ananad etc. -international movie luminaries like Shirely MacLaine, David Lean, Mark Robson and Cantiflas, had admired Shiela and ranked it amongst the world's best show houses. But the most distinguished patrons of them all are the 50 million people who, besides continually enjoying watching movies at the Shiela, have owned the experience as part of their most valued sentiments for the last 40 years, and still counting!


ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

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Murder of a Heritage Cinema The West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee – who was minister of Information and Culture, and also look after the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) in the late ‘80s – fondly named a landmark heritage cinema under KMC as Chaplin, since he was a big fan of Charlie Chaplin, and, probably, hoping the cinema would churn out a moviefare of that subtly intellectual kind. However though, the mortal remains of an immortal phenomenon will soon be erased from the contours of the supposedly intellectual capital of India. For many of today’s young generation, it’s a scar on development, while for most old guards, it is ‘a murder of a heritage cinema.’ A TM perspective. – By Divya Rajgarhia There is a road named Madan Street or Madan Square in today’s Kolkata, but hardly anyone (youngsters) knows who the man was. They don’t even know why the name was given to the street. They frown and look intriguingly when told that it took the name of a man who is part of the city’s, if not the country’s, heritage, and who gave the ‘earliest recorded instance of cinema experience’ to this country. ‘So what?’ is the innuendo! ‘Probably it’s the same mindset permeating the thinktank of the KMC echelons,’ rue the elderly in town indicating the reason why the otherwise precious heritage cinema structure, built by the man, was sought to be razed to ground, instead of preserving, if only for posterity as historical speciman! The KMC has decided to pull down the Chaplin Cinema (erstwhile Elphinstone) in favour of an office complex for its own use. Jamshedji, Framji Madan, a Pharsi boy from Bombay migrated all the way to Calcutta in search of livelihood, following bankruptcy of his father, and took a prop job in the then Elphinstone Dramatic Club in 1868. This company soon evolved into a professional theatre company, staging shows all over the country, and so did Madan. He left the company for a brief gap (1882-83) that took him to Karachi and turned him businessman; he returned to Calcutta to become the owner of, first the Corinthian Hall, an then the Elphinstone itself. Roughly ten years down the line, the same Elphinstone theatre was turned into what is regarded as the country’s first permanent cinema. As Madan went on creating one cinema after the other, Elphinstone continued its journey through time – Universal’s ‘Melody of love’, one of the first talkie films to be shown in India, was screened here in 1929 – along with the growth of the film industry till 1969 when it suddenly turned into Minerva.

The Chaplin of Madan Jamshedji Framji Madan (1856–1923), born to a Pharsi family in Bombay, was the man who laid foundations of cinema in the East. He made first silent movie in Bengali. In 1902, he started bioscope – a fairground attraction consisting of a traveling cinema – show in a tent in Maidan, along with similar shows in Corinthian Theatre. The equipment used were procured from Pathé Frères of Paris. Most of the films shown in those shows were from Pathé Productions. These shows were organized under the banner of Elphinstone Bioscope Company that later produced a number of short films. He also started film shows in Alfred Theater, which he bought in the same year. In 1907, he established Elphinstone Picture Palace – currently known as Chaplin Cinema – which was the first permanent show house in Calcutta.

Having been through the thrills and chills, and decades of decadence, the ill-fated Minerva – whose lease with the December 2008

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• SPECIAL FEATURE • Entertainment Private Limited, proprietors of Elite cinema Sohrab The Electric Theatre (now known and owner of renowned cinema Modi and Associates ended – passed as Regal Cinema), Grand Opera halls like Priya, Star Theatre etc., into the KMC hands. This is exactly House (currently known as Globe says “it seems that the KMC can when and where, it is reported that Cinema) and Crown Cinema (now break down Heritage Buildings at Minerva was named Chaplin by the will, but nowhere the government then KMC in charge and West known as Uttara Cinema) were all allows Heritage structures to be Bengal Information and Culture owned by Madan Theatres. pulled down.” Minister, and today’s State chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee Arijit took a dig at the government saying it creates named it Chaplin for his sheer love for the Charlie Chaplin innumerable obstacles for single-screen cinema owners if genre. they want to demolish their old theatres or renovate it, but it can do the same. He feels that the government “Sohrab contested in a court of law against the KMC but should have taken an initiative and floated tenders to lost,” informs Arabindo Ray, the former manager at Chaplin. find out from the people if anyone wanted to run it. “It subsequently went into the control of the civic body.” It was thereafter leased out to the West Bengal Film Development Corporation (WBFDC) in 1990 which ran it somehow for a couple of years. “Chaplin was running at huge losses, and was not viable as a business,” says WBFDC director Abhijit Sanyal. According to him, there was no point in running the cinema. The lease ended in 2005, and mood at the KMC was just obvious. Demolition of the Chaplin and replacement it with an office complex.

Vikram Jiaswal proprietor of Hind cinema, on the contrary, feels KMC has reason to replace the Chaplin with an annex. According to him, it would be difficult for KMC to run the cinema in these days of multiplexing. As it is, there is another single screen Elite already existing in the area. That the KMC could not find any joint-venture partner to convert the Chaplin into mall-cum-multiplex is also seen by the industry as a reason for the civic body to opt for an administrative complex.

Municipal joint commissioner Sahidul Islaam, the in charge of the Chaplin project, ays the property originally belonged to KMC. “We took it back from WBFDC as we needed more space for our office administration,” says the JC, “we had previously planned to build a mall-cum-multiplex as a joint venture with private parties, but later decided to build an annex instead.”

According to the government officials, the proposed structure after demolishing Chaplin will house a citizen centre, a conference room and a video conferencing hall of international standards, and a central server room, among other things. Further, pulling down Chaplin is also said to make available more parking space and a better traffic circulation system in the entire area.

When asked about Chaplin falling under the category of Heritage Building Act, the official feigned ignorance and said he had never heard of such a thing. The industry in Kolkata is apparently upset with the tendency of the State government towards Chaplin. Arijit Dutta, proprietor Priya

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J J Madan, third son of J F Madan, became managing director of Madan Theatres after JF’s death in 1923. Madan Theatres reached a peak in the late 1920s when it owned 127 theatres and controlled half of the country’s box office- much like today’s multiplex circuits.

2008

Whatever may the factors, the agonizing fact for most ‘culturally inclined’ Kolkatans is that the cinema they loved and owned for so many decades as part of their ‘heritage’ – irrespective of the government’s ignorance to recognize the cinema as heritage property – is inching towards disappearance.


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Making a

Good Show on Screen

Indian cinema exhibition industry, since it began its journey from its earliest days of inception, has traversed many glories and glooms. There have been many a melodrama on, and off the screen too, in terms of both content and conduit. However, nothing matches the excitement – or agony for some – of the last 10 years. Here is a methodic nutshell of the big screen story that is fancied by many today, presented one of the industry captains of repute- Atul Goel. – Atul Goel If it were not for the high entertainment tax structures and the theater hire or a minimum guarantee regime, the current size of the theatrical film business in India would have been Rs 12,000 crore compared to the current levels of Rs 6,000 crore. Such a myopic business model led to a litany of disaster for the industry – a popular Hindi movie was just released in 250-300 screens, 2 per cent to 3 per cent of the available 14,000 screens that have been in business in the last decade. In the early 1990s the industry was faced with two daunting business arrangements – the high entertainment tax structures and the theatre hire/minimum guarantee model. In a competitive scenario, the theatre hire/ minimum guarantee regime only glorifies a few, that too in the short run, and snail paces the growth of the entire industry. This obviously has far reaching impacts on the industry in the long term. To add to the worries, like in any industry, the high tax structures signaled a doom for the theatrical industry!

effective co-ordination, the industry was able to seek amends in the entertainment tax structures in many states, fuelling the multiplex growth. It so happened that the build out of the new multiplex, to a count of approximately 100 properties today with 400 screens, took almost five years and also not many competitive zones were created. This encouraged the distributor and the multiplex operator to get into a revenue share business arrangement, emulating the global models, rather than getting into a constant conflict of establishing theatre hires and minimum guarantees every week. Thus,

In the late 90s, certain progressive state governments announced entertainment tax waiver for setting up of multiplex and new cinema infrastructure. The multiplex industry, comprising of new players, came together to further the same interest with other states. With

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the industry for the first time saw the revenue share model work.

demonstrated by usage of digital technology, that benefit the exhibition value chain as a whole.

Today, on average, the 400 multiplex screens contribute to almost 30-35 per cent of the all language theatrical collections; however, the multiplex screens have gained greater importance as far as the Hindi film business is concerned. But, the remaining 12,000 – 13,000 single screens in the country are sill influenced by the traditional ways of working since there haven’t been any tax breaks for the existing single screens and no investments have been made to disturb the inertia of minimum guarantees. Above all, the industry players failed to realise that if a change in the business model suits the multiplex well, the same would hold true for the single screens.

In the coming years, a popular Hindi movie in India would exhibit at least with 2,000 prints (with a combination of digital and celluloid prints) from the current count of 500 prints, hence improving the productivity of the movie production industry. A more proactive approach of sharing collections would encourage more build outs of multiplex screens and an upgradation of the existing single screens. Such advancements would automatically facilitate enhancement of the existing average ticket price of Rs 25 per ticket, of the 3.3 billion tickets sold in the country. The numbers are large and could yield exponential results, and it would be anyone’s guess that the industry holds a bright future for the next decade.

Sometime in 2005, digital projection technology revealed itself to the industry. Fortunately, the technology caught flavor with the single screens in India. The deployment of the digital technology gave a reason to shift from a theatre hire/revenue share regime to a revenue share regime even for the single screens. Although, the conversion has been slow, approximately 700-800 screens have been digitised till now. However, only 60-70 screens of E-City Ventures have been able to shift to a revenue share arrangement. As far as film distribution is concerned, multiplex definitely made a significant impact on collections, and a once declining industry has been growing at a rate of 25-30 per cent. In addition, digital cinema is slowly benefiting the industry. It is self evident that a revenue share model is not restrictive in nature; it allows a larger number of screens (even within the same catchments) to exhibit, thereby increasing revenues. Also, there are cost savings, TM-56

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(Atul Goel is managing director, E-City Ventures, the promoting company of Fun Republic brand of multiplexes. Theatre Magic thanks the author for the support and goodwill extended.)


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Cinematic Fame Since the time cinema exhibition in India began opening up to the global technology developments, one of the few companies that staked for big claims has been Fame Cinemas, the re-branded entity of the erstwhile Shringar Cinemas. Always expressive about DCI-level digital cinema, the company recently, coolly, made a record of sorts by converting as many as four multiplexes with a total screen count of 20 into all-digital. Shravan Shroff, the dynamic managing director of Fame Cinemas, unveils the digital dream he has for Indian cinema, besides an overall enhancement.

On how does the company look at the Indian industry today... The Indian cinema industry has truly come of age in the last six-eight years. All the segments of the industry production, distribution and exhibition - have received organized funding, which has resulted in the advent of world class multiplexes, which in turn has funnelled the production of a large number of movies, thereby benefiting the end consumer. Finally, even though the economy is undergoing a tough time, visits to the theatres have been traditionally ‘recession proof.’ People are known to go to the movies in good times as well as in bad. This has been borne out by the fact that our multiplexes have enjoyed houseful shows and robust occupancies on opening weekends of movies like Dostana, Golmaal Returns, Quantum of Solace and Fashion. To add to this, we have been growing our average ticket prices and spend per head on food & beverage items on a year-on-year basis.

There is just this fire in the belly to innovate and excel. We like to keep the path challenging, otherwise complacency sets in. We constantly bring in newer technology, newer marketing initiatives, better seating, newer architects etc. to work on our projects. That is what makes this journey so exciting. Being successful is important to us but our desire for customer satisfaction and value add to their overall experience is what keeps us going.

On what drives the company for its bold initiatives... December 2008

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On contradictions of slowing down the aggression, after ambitious planning... We believe in running the company, at the pace that is correct. We have Ghatokapar (4 screens), Pune (3 screens), Symphony (Bengaluru)-single-screen, Panchkula (3 screens), Chandigarh (5 screens) and Kalyan (5 screens)- all ready and awaiting final permissions. To add onto these, we would be starting the fit-out works in another five to six sites. Thus, we believe we are running the company at the right pace.

On current roll-out plans- screens, locations, and time frame... As enumerated above, six properties with an aggregate of 21 screens have already been lined up for launch, in addition to another five-six locations being fitted out in the coming months. So significant numbers are being added in terms of locations and screens, and, within an approachable time.

On technology drives like digital, Imax large format etc... We are all for big technology, and, in fact, many times the first to introduce it in our cinemas. We already have installed 2K digital projection systems in many of our multiplexes, and would gradually be replacing all our Aclass cinemas with this technology. Apart from this, intensive use of technology is made use of in our backend and frontend operations, which makes a noticeable change in the value that we provide to our consumers, viz: IVR booking, kiosk booking, PDA booking etc.

On plans of all-digital or Imax roll-out... The first install has been part of a test-bed. Post that, FameVashi with six screens, Fame- Malad with seven screens, FameGhatkopar with four screens, and Fame-Pune with three screens have all been equipped with 2 K digital systems. Very soon, we will be installing 2 K digital systems in our FameSouthcity Kolkata, Fame-Lido and Fame- Symphony Bangalore as well. This, we believe, makes clear our intentions, and more than that our commitment to technology.

On leveraging the company’s production and distribution strengths... We are not producing movies yet but there are plans to start production shortly. We have distribution tie-ups with

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Fox Star Studios and UIP. Plus, we distribute Hindi movies. This ensures our multiplexes got continuous supply of software of all genres.

On what is most critical to cinema success, a good movie or a good promo... I think both are important. However, clever marketing will get people into the cinemas initially; but ultimately the movie has to work. We have seen so many, well-marketed Hindi and Hollywood releases go down the tube just because they were not good enough to hold the audiences’ interest.

On strengths and weaknesses of Indian exhibition industry as compared to global and Asian industry... India has the unique advantage of having an extremely strong domestic industry, that is multi lingual. Thus, we are able to access content from a much larger base. Given the size of our country, and the fact that we have been traditionally under-screened represents a good opportunity for growth as compared to other Asian countries that are much smaller in size, and are also quite developed in terms of number of screens.

On the positioning of Fame Cinemas in five years from now... Being one of the foremost exhibition companies in the world! As the infrastructure that we are creating today is brand new and world class, as also futuristic, it should help position ourselves among the best equipped and best operated cinema exhibition company that the patrons could look up to.


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Inoxicating the Retail Revolution One of the most dynamic expressions of the retail revolution that took over the Indian entertainment and lifestyle domain a few years ago, is the multiplexing. And living this dynamism as expressively as the market had been expecting is the Inox Leisure Ltd., one of the pan-India cinema circuits in the country. Alok Tandon, the chief operating officer, who spearhead the 'mission Inoxication,' explains what it all means to the company, and the country as well: On how does the company look at the Indian industry today… In the last few years we have witnessed a significant growth in organized retail in India. Favorable demographics, rising consumer incomes, emergence of new shopping malls, availability of better sourcing options, and changing lifestyles have been driving the growth of organized retailing. The young urban is not satisfied by purely spending on basic products and services. They want to indulge by spending more on lifestyle products which would satisfy their social, esteem, and self-actualisation needs. Leisure needs are currently manifesting themselves in the desire for a shopping experience, watching movies in multiplexes, eating out, travel, etc. Mall developers are considering multiplexes and entertainment outlets as key elements for attracting footfalls. This is being reflected in the attractive rental rates offered to such outlets. TM-60

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As a culmination of all these factors, multiplexes are fast emerging as one of the key anchor tenants for most organized retail outlets in India.


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On what drives the company for its bold initiatives… Our mission is to create India's largest network of world class multiplex cinemas, across all the leading towns and cities of India. We aspire to be the leader in the Indian film exhibition industry on all key parameters including number of screens, quality of viewing experience, and financial parameters like revenues and profitability. Our passion for the business drives us forward. This passion derives its strength from our competitive advantage in the areas of research-backed investment, early moving, proven project management skills, technology, brand, location, economies of scale, marketing strength and customer orientation, and a qualified talent pool of human resources to support all these factors. That makes up the biggest drive.

On contradictions of slowing down the aggression, after ambitious planning… In a span of six years, Inox has built up a strength of 27 multiplexes and 94 screens in 19 cities across India - the fastest growth perhaps for any multiplex chain in India. In the year 2008 itself we have added five multiplexes and 18 screens. Having said this, the completion of projects on time is dependant on a number of external factors such as timely completion and handover to us by developers and obtaining the relevant licenses from various government departments.

On the current status of roll-out plans- screens, locations, and time frame… By 2010, we aim to have approximately 80 multiplexes and over 300 screens, spanning a pan-India presence. Our ongoing expansion will enable us to scale up the aboveprojected figure, that has been charted out based on a thorough assessment of the market dynamics now, and the times to come. Our investment in a property is carefully done as we have a responsibility towards our shareholders and we feel that ventures such as megaplexes should not be built just for the sake of the format since they would not yield good returns if the market doesn't support the same.

We feel that the number of screens should be based on the movie watching habits of the local people. There is no point of having 10 screens in a location where only one language does well as we will not get enough content to show it in all screens.We have more screens in an area where we know that apart from Hindi and English even regional movies are watched and there are good foot falls for the same. Hence, every area is evaluated before we decide the number of screens and we feel that we have optimum number of screens in our location.

On keeping distance from technology initiatives like digital, large format et al... Inox never shied away from adopting new technologies and all our multiplexes have a state-of-the-art sound and projection systems. We have properties which have an all-digital projection system like the one at Nariman Point. We have mixture of both D- and E-cinemas in our properties.

On leveraging the strengths of foray into distribution business... Inox launched it distribution business in West Bengal and Rajasthan in September 2005 to leverage its exhibition strength in these areas. Within a year of its launch, it became the largest player in distribution in West Bengal. It made the distribution business in West Bengal and Rajasthan more professional with proper reporting system. As a result of this, corporate production houses prefer to tie up with a corporate like INOX for their distribution needs. They are assured that they will get the largest and best network of cinemas in for their product and at a fair price. Inox has had some extremely successful releases like Namastey London, Cheeni Kum, Partner, Bheja Fry, Namastey London, Heyy Baby and Om Shanti Om in the recent past.

On what is most critical for a cinema's success a good movie or a good promo... Earlier, the movie marketing role was entirely the domain of the producers/distributors. With the industry becoming more organized, the terms are equally formidable at all December 2008

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Sriram Sistla MRH Digital Systems Bengaluru

The credit of educating the vast number of exhibitors, especially single-

screeners on various aspects including technology surely goes to Theatre World. This was till then the preserve of a handful of engineers, consultants, and manufacturers. Theatre World has not only broken the barrier, but also created a platform for exchanging views and improvising one’s knowledge about the nitty-gritty of a cinema operation. With a quality mix of stylized content the magazine gives valuable insight to every member of the cinema value chainequipment manufacturer, vendor, cinema operator, technician, and patron. It’s something that a cinema professional or follower will always look upto.

Eranna Yekbote Era Architects Mumbai

As a designer, I find Theatre World as a magazine of immense value to

the design community as it not only showcases the design manifestations from across the world but also disseminates invaluable information about the trends and technologies impacting the cinema design domain world over. It, therefore, keeps us abreast with tenets as also demands of the cinema design industry, and helps us gauge what the market expects from us, from time to time. For a complex, and agreeably unorganised industry like ours, a publication like Theatre World is a must read fare.

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• SPECIAL FEATURE • the three nodes of the value-chain, viz: producers, distributors and the exhibitors. If the movie does well, it benefits all the three, and vice-versa. Today, we take aggressive stand on promoting movies at our end in tandem with the producers or distributors. However, there is no substitute for good content; the success of any promo depends on the footfalls that a multiplex gets which is turn depends entirely on the content.

On strengths, and weaknesses of Indian exhibition industry in comparison to global, and Asian industry… India is amongst the most under-screened nations in the world. With around 13,000 active screens out of which over 95 per cent are standalone single-screens, India's screen density is very low. In contrast, China, which produces far less movies than India, has 65,000 screens while US has 36,000. (Source: CII-KPMG). The biggest advantage that multiplexes have in India is the demand and popularity of regional movies which provides multiplexes with more content. On the flip side, the multiplex business in India is heavily regulated; it is highly taxed too with multiplexes having to pay a high rate of entertainment tax and a service tax on rentals. We can also see the problem of overcrowding in certain areas.

On the position of Indian exhibition industry in five years from now... We have seen constant progress in the last five years. There exists a huge market in India - around 35 towns and cities with a population in excess of one million - the threshold level for the viability of a multiplex in the Indian

market. Plus the cinema going culture in India is very highper capita visits per annum stand at around 5.5, against around 2 in Europe, 3 in Canada, 4 in Australia and 5 in the US . The next five years will also see the evolution of multiplexes in a number of B and C cities. With a chunk of India's population comprising of the middle classes, this section will drive the multiplex boom.

On Inox’s contribution to the cause of the industry… In a short span of time, Inox has emerged as a force to reckon with in the Indian cinema exhibition business, and established itself amongst the fastest growing national multiplex chains, besides being the most profitable multiplex chain. Our mission is to establish as a leader across the country with world-class cinema facilities. As our presence grows nationwide, INOX will enable millions of Indians to Live the Movie!

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Passion, Vision and Mission If there was any cinema company in South India that ever matched, if not stayed ahead of, the dynamism of today's national multiplex circuits, it is Sathyam Cinemas. The very name connotes daring initiatives. Like the unbelievably massive movie hoardings - that have always marked the physical identity of the cinema in Royapetta-Chennai - the cinema company's initiatives have just been phenomenal. Here is what Tan nGoronga, the chief operating officer of Sathyam Cinemas has to say… On what drives the company for its bold initiatives… Many of the initiatives are driven by the company Managing Director Kiran Reddy and his search for the best cinematic experience available in India. He has a 'no compromise' approach to the entertainment experience, the quality that can be delivered and ensuring that consumers get value for money from their experience. Many of the initiatives are not driven by profitability, but more for passion, driven by a vision for doing something that is of a level of quality that will ensure that it won't have to be replaced in the event of a competition. This is a method of getting things right the first time, and sometimes doing things that others may not be prepared to do.

On contradictions of slowing down the aggression, after ambitious planning… Development has been a key inhibitor in our development. The key strategy of destination multiplexes in destination malls leaves us at the mercy of large scale retail malls to come on line in order to expand. Although this may be a long-term approach, we believe that it is more sustainable than taking second rate sites that may not have the longevity of quality locations.

On the current status of roll-out plans- screens, locations, and time frame… Our longer term plans will be in the range 200 and 300 screens over the next seven years. This screen count would accrue from tentative number of 25 to 35 locations, predominantly in the South. Many of the intended projects would come on stream post 2010 and 2011. However, there are some projects lined up for roll out in 2009.

On plans of creating all-digital cinema locations, and Imax theatres... There is no change in our plans on all-digital installs. All of our new screens will be all- digital, without the introduction of 35mm projection systems. As for Imax theatres are concerned, it continues to be a core part of our strategy

moving forward. We believe that there is significant value in the new Imax digital technology. We will see two Imax screens up in Chennai before the close of 2009.

On mismatch between North and West on one side, and South on the other in multiplex aggression and cinema promos… There is a fair amount of conservatism in the market in the South. Retail developments have been slower in this region, as compared to other regions of the country. More, competition has not driven cinema promotions here. Having said this, there is a strong sense of having the fundamentals right before they rear to expand. Therefore, the Southern States, although slow to start, will definitely catch up, and hopefully learn from the many mistakes made in other parts of the country. This also comes noted in that some of the best retail developments are being planned in the South. Most good things often take time before they manifest.

On what is most critical for a cinema, a good movie or a good promo… A good movie will always be the key to the success of cinema. You can fool people once or even twice, but keep giving them rubbish and they will soon find something else to consume and relish.

On the outlook about the Indian cinema exhibition industry today… There is a world of opportunity. However, a lot of factors

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• SPECIAL FEATURE • and seeing movies is also widely accepted. Movie making is increasingly rampant and the quality and digestibility of movies are also on the increase. All these factors account for the strengths of the industry, contributing to further growth.

will need to come together in order for things to really take off. There have been a slew of changes taking place in the market - with the increasing numbers of multiplexes - and impacting the industry dynamics. Having said that, it is to be noted that Indian industry is such a diverse and wide market place in terms of the type of consumer, and the type of the exhibition facility, the change will be a lot slower than in other markets. Pockets of excellence, or sporadic cases of dynamism cannot and need not be generic for such a huge and diverse market place.

On strengths and weaknesses of Indian industry in comparison to global and Asian industry… Indian industry is characterised by a varied product base and varied consumer base. Movies are culturally accepted

On the tangent, the organization of the industry is relatively poor, and highly fragmented. In some areas, there is an over regulation of the industry that does not seem to have relevance. Though the coming of corporatization has contributed to bringing some organized structure to the industry, a lot of ground still remains outside its purview. Multiplicity of regulations is the other.

On the position of Indian exhibition industry in five years… I believe it will be in its honey moon period of growth. It just now started its journey towards a point where some markets have already got saturated, or fast getting saturated. So, immense opportunities for growth and betterment. However, price will start to push the boundaries of elasticity outwards.

On positioning itself in the market… Quality and value - will be the forte. Our new multiplexes will set the standard in terms of cinematic and entertainment experience.

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Rahul Jhaveri Jhaveri & Jhaveri Architects Mumbai

Theatre World magazine is like an encyclopaedia of cinema design

and related subjects for all of us- architects, acousticians, interior designers, theatre owners and even patrons. Every issue of Theatre World gives us invaluable information and objectively structured articles on varied subjects of cinema business. With a good mix of national and international content from products, to process to people, the publication gives a good insight into the industry dynamics, to everyone related to the industry. It is a must read publication for anyone interested with the cinema exhibition business.

Dewang Sampat Senior Vice-President Cinemax Ltd.

I congratulate “Theatre World” on their tenth Anniversary. It’s always a great read and is to the point; covers almost every issue pertaining to multiplex industry. I always refer to it as it serves as a big helping hand in our business development endeavours. All innovations in the multiplex industry comes to our knowledge because of “Theatre World.” Industry wise they are strong in research and put in great effort to carry the best of topical write-ups. I wish them all the success.

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Holding on to 'Filmy' Strengths Besides multiplexing, if there had been any big debate occupying the cinema platforms and marketplaces nationally and internationally, it is the projection format- digital or film! The atmosphere across the world markets got so much heated with the debate that while the whole global exhibition community began getting divided on either side, new genres of technology entrepreneurship came to the fore. The debate is such a big thing that the atmosphere is still not clear. Indian scenario, in fact, is more demonstrative of the situation. Holding strongly onto the filmy strengths from India, is Monee & Co., the Bangalore-based film projection equipment manufacturer that had been serving the cinema exhibition industry for over 25 years now. Here is what Sanjay Agarwal, the director of the company has to share on this critical juncture… On how does it look at the Indian cinema industry shaping up… The Indian cinema industry is shaping up well, but there is still some way to go. There are many old cinema theatres which are in prime locations in cities and towns, as also in every nook and corner of India. They all need to either modernize themselves completely or convert into multiplex so that they can offer the whole ambit of modern entertainment to their patrons, and thereby continue to survive the dynamics of the business.

On demarcating periods in cinema exhibition, in terms of equipment and technology… The demarcating periods in the exhibition industry have mostly been defined by the advent of different technologies, such as 70mm projection, multi-track magnetic recording on film, analog stereo, digital sound, xenon projection, and, of course the E-Cinema, and now the D-Cinema. On the other hand, the big differentiator between the old and new entertainment models, so to say, is the advent of multiplexing.

Our Company, being one of the pioneers in this business, has been instrumental in every phase of technology that has been ushered in.

On claims of multiplexing emergence as big revolution in the country… Yes, definitely. Multiplexing has been a great revolution, not only for cinema but also as a wholesome entertainment venue for the entire family. Multiplexes have also become destination points for youngsters, who now have a safe and healthy environment to hang out in. It has also encouraged new formats of retailing and has changed consumers' spending patterns.

On whether it is multiplexing or exhibition technology that is contributing to better movie-watching experience… I do not think that we can affirmatively say one or the other, as the cause of this change. Both are equally responsible simply because both of these go hand-in-hand. Evolutionary (or I would rather call it 'technological') changes are the basis on which the entire cinema-going

The plush R&D facility of the company in Bangalore

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Projector manufacturing unit

experience has been enhanced to a completely different plane. But then, this had to be combined with the right ambience of the venue- modern, comfortable (and technically perfect) location, and convenient for families in all neighbourhoods. This is exactly what the multiplexes have come to offer. I would, therefore, say that the combination of both the above has brought about the winds of change.

projection equipment manufacturers. In fact, besides the international quality, we offer many more advantages and value added services to the Indian customer- all at comparatively lower price point. Due to our expertise and local knowledge of the domestic industry, I am convinced that we are better placed to handle the challenges faced by the Indian cinema industry.

On digital cinema formats (D-Cinema and ECinema) gaining larger grounds affecting the film-based projection business…

On the notion of foraying into E-Cinema solutions business…

E-Cinema has been there for some years now, and DCinema also gaining wider visibility slowly. Having said that, the phenomenon is still in its early days; has a fair amount of space to cover to take a shape as to help us judge the scenario. It is, therefore, may not be fair to say anything affirmatively at this point in time.

That is not so. We have always maintained that we shall take our time regarding digital cinema, until internationally things become clear er. Once again, we cannot comment on this aspect, at this moment in time.

The Monee family in the early days in Mumbai

On the threat of digital cinema formats sounding extinction of film-based projection systems…

I do not think that film projection is going to become extinct in the near future. India being such a diverse and pricesensitive market, it can have a place for every model. As of now, there doesn't appear a considerable effect on the film-based projection business. What will really make a big dent probably would be if the real digital cinema equipment could break the price barrier downwards, with the quality being maintained. It is a little early to attempt for a clearer idea on the issue. I, therefore, would rather reserve my opinion at this stage.

On the competence of Indian projection equipment manufacturers against the competition from foreign players… There is no real challenge for us from the foreign cinema

On the challenges before film-based projection equipment business today….

There are both challenges and competing strengths too. Strengths have been explained above. As for challenges, there are issues like excise policy regimes, influx of foreign equipment, grey market etc., besides digital cinema. Among all, I would say 'digital cinema' as the most potential.

On the status of Indian projection industry in the next five years time… Simply put, it is difficult to say. As is evident from the developments of the past few years, there are a slew of models, both in terms of technology and business, coming to exhibition market place, and each of them taking a piece. Given the very unorganised nature of the business, it is unpredictable at this point in time.

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Entertainment of Design Designing a cinema has always been a challenge. For a simple reason that, being a static format, it has to accentuate the consumer taste and requirement that is not constant. This assumes far more critical nature in the current times of multiplexing, where retail entertainment got irreversibly blended with cinematic thrills. So, erstwhile traditional moviehouses are today's entertainment destinations. Here's an effort to present an angle of this design perspective- that is getting synonymous with entertainment. - Archana Tivary In the last decade, there has been a quantum leap in retail space and cinema design. As the retail market boomed, so did the importance of the consumer, leading to the rise in his preferences, expectations and, moreover, demands. Attracting customers, building brand awareness and increasing volumes is the most critical factor today. Complexities of preferences have influenced the entire retail platform including all commercial formats of shopping malls, brand outlets, public spaces, and needless to say, cinemas as well. Aware of these factors, retailers today recognise the need to enhance such destinations. This increasing influence of retail has initiated a radical metamorphosis in the core of cinema design. Traditionally, cinemas have always had a powerful social impact. In India, it has almost forever been the prime destination for entertainment for all ages and income groups. Design of these cinemas was hence a reflection of this powerful relationship with the public. Stand-alone dominating structures with mostly one or two large auditoriums, massive screen sizes, impressive volumes and grand architecture were the language of its design. However, as the social, economical and commercial demands evolved so did this representation of the larger than life entertainment format. While preferences of consumers grew multiple, so did cinema offering. Flexibility of timing, multiple choices of content and programming efficiency were some of the many demands that were driving the need for a new cinema style. This

Archana Tivary, the young and charming head of Design Studio, the in-house design division of Big Cinemas, is a professional of many credentials. A Masters in Architecture from Edinburgh University, Scotland, the young Pune-ite designer won several honours, including the Andrew Bequest Award for outstanding performance in Architectural Conservation Programme in 2004-05 even while pursuing her Masters degree. She has also been Editor of the Scottish Centre of Conservation Studies during the same period. led to the rise of the multiplex model as a solution for multiple offerings at maximum operating efficiency. In 2000, Adlabs launched its first multiplex at Wadala, designed to house four screens and the world's largest Imax dome format. By its sheer size and scale, this marked the launch of the cinema as a destination trend into the Indian consumer market. Designing a cinema complex is conceptually no different from a wholesome retail destination. Critical design parameters have grown beyond viewing angles and hygiene, and towards consumer preferences, with ambience, service, smart multiple offerings and, of course, state of the art technology. Cutting edge design with strong statements, seen before only in hotels and clubs, now integrate deeply even into cinema design. More importantly, as the floor plate has expanded, so has the opportunity for well designed lobbies, lounges, cafes, food courts and gaming zones. In 2006, came the Metro Adlabs as a fine representation of this shift in design parameters- from a unique design intervention of the original heritage structure, with only one large screen, to a lavishly designed multiplex with six

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screens, including the launch of the company's first luxury cinema format, the 'ebony lounge.' This format speaks of 7-star hospitality, bringing exquisite food and service at the recliner sofa seat, where the guest is tucked-in comfortably with a blanket and pillow for an ultimate movie experience. In addition to that, there is an urbane and stylish lounge to welcome the guests at all times. Simultaneously with all these design up-gradations, technology of cinema has also had a quantum leap. Digitisation of cinema, which was once considered as a dream, has not only emerged but also integrated deeply into the reality of cinema space. This has created a massive gateway into virtual entertainment leading to integration of various formats like 3D, 4D, etc into mainstream cinema. Designed to be a distinctive global e n t e r t a i n m e n t destination, this year Big Cinemas launched India's first 6D movie screen in Agra, where cutting edge technology would provide a multi-sensory cinematic experience with special effects such as breeze, water spray and smoke. In addition to all this, the multiplex also housed the first ever interactive cinema theatre, where each viewer holds a wireless remote with push buttons and an LCD screen, enabling them to participate in a trivia game about the theme of the film. Judging a cinema design is not so simple. However, what is easier is to evaluate its success or failure. This simply lies in the impact which draws the moviegoers repeatedly and that can only happen by getting the correct mix of offering to facilitate a 'more than just movie experience'. When there is more than just one reason to visit a destination, the shuffle of experiences would not only drag a customer once more but also many times. We, at the Big Cinemas Design Studio, believe that a cinema complex needs to be a complete entertainment destination.

Our concept stems from the depiction of the journey of a consumer from one activity to another within the cinema complex. Be it buying a ticket at the box office, or purchasing popcorn at the concessionaire, the experience intended is what drives our design. Hence, the first step is to understand and relate to the consumer. As each target consumer is a response of the location, that's why we base our notions on a detailed catchment analysis including their lifestyle, preferences and exposure. This helps us derive a suitable design model that attempts to truly reflect this target audience. India being a diverse platform with numerous social and cultural complexities, designing of such experience zones must obviously be uniquely responding to such factors. Cinemas are not alien to the various parts of the country; however welldesigned cinema destinations still are, even today. Whether the reinvention of an old cinema building or designing a luxury cinema lounge, the mantra is to first know the user and then work around it. Contemporary society in the country demands access to a multiplicity of retail and entertainment opportunities that combine unique experiences in shopping, dining and recreation. As consumers have become more aware and sophisticated, so must design responses to them. Hence a cinema complex evolving into entertainment destination is the only logical answer. This concept has created a huge opportunity for designers to think out of the box and explore mammoth possibilities of experience for an audience. Never before was an exciting and challenging platform available for the creative world of architects, interior and product designers to exploit freely. As Adlabs, the largest cinema chain in India, now emerges under the new brand Big Cinemas, its design statement promises that if 'the world is a stage', then that 'stage' is to be found in our entertainment destinations. December 2008

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The 10 Aspects of

Cinema Design Indian cinema, generically, is over 100 years old, so is its design component. However, with each passing phase, the design quotient underwent a change- beginning from temporary tenements to standalone sheds to conventional play houses to grandiose movie palaces to cinema clusters to the current day fancy multiplexes. There was indeed a significant chunk of time, when the design splendour of the movie house commanded higher respect than the content it played. Probably the same genre continues to this day, albeit, in a different format- the last 10 years bearing a visible testimony. Here's a designer's perspective of the whole transformation.

Parimal Mehta Architect-acoustician, Mumbai 1. On how Indian cinema design changed over the years… The domain of cinema design has undergone a sea change. Essentially, from large stand-alone format, it has come a long way to present itself, first as clusters of cinemas, and now as the popular multiplexes. The most modern expression is to be an integral part of malls or large retail establishments. The essential parameters have changed, the perspectives have changed, and so did the comfort levels.

2. On the essentials of today's cinema design, as compared to that of yester years… One of essential changes is the size. Cinemas have become smaller, to an average seating capacity of 250- the lower side being the fancy gold class with around 75 seats, and the higher side being the generic class with around 325 seats. Balconies are bygone now. Today's cinemas have comparatively higher degree of sophistication relating to sound, i.e. acoustics, and interior design. They have more of functional elements than of sheer design statements. Availability of design materials both for architecture and acoustics has vastly improved, contributing to better combination and experience.

3. On differentiating factors other than the more common size, and décor… Though there have been some iconic symbols of high quality movie presentation and classy offerings in yester year cinemas, it's been far from being generic, unlike today's cinemas. Today's multiplex cinemas generically TM-72

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have more aspects qualifying the movie presentation. Sound and projection is one, offering better aural and visual experience. There is a fair amount of acoustic expertise here that accounts for the sightlines of each seat. Seating is the other, with large plush seats with adequate leg space have replaced the old rickety and crampy seating style. Acoustically absorbent fabrics have come to cover interior walls and seatings; in addition, softy carpets have stepped into the auditorium; air-conditioning became must.

4. On the right cinema model for Indiamultiplex or single-screen… The tastes, and aspirations as also challenges of urban lifestyle today demands a multiplex model- for the sheer factor of multiple options, flexible timings, and


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• SPECIAL FEATURE • urge for sophistication - not to miss out the economic freedom - demands a multiplex model. Having said that, single-screen is still relevant, and probably advisable for smaller centres, not only from the investment point of view but also the diehard love for the large, traditional model.

5. On challenges of cinema design today… It is indeed challenging- in the sense that today's cinemas are multiple in numbers on one location, and of varying sizes and purposes. The design needs to align all of them into a visually and aurally attractive proposition. Adding to that are the luxury embellishments and alluring services that have to be accounted in overall design.

6. On the notion of Indian designers imitating Western models, instead of innovating their own? This need not necessarily be true. Indian designers have actually come up with their models of ingenuity. More, by virtue of their being familiar with the local bylaws, they are better placed to comply with the guidelines and still come up with better, workable models. Any impression of imitating Western models shall largely be due to the client decision to have such a model in place.

7. On Indian cinema design expertise as compared to Asian or Western…

Indian designers are among the best in the world. They enjoy equal access to information and means to acquire knowledge and materials to make their designs. It's the scale of the project that makes the difference, besides the individual's capability to leverage the resources.

8. On the cinema builder's and designer's role in getting proper acoustics to cinema… As a necessary parameter for any aural and visual space, better acoustics are ensured by a professional acoustic consultant. This is where the designer will have a decisive role. However, the builder sets the budget that ultimately determines the standard of acoustic perfection.

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• SPECIAL FEATURE • 9. On the popular belief that the architect and acoustician are never in line…

to say that I have less conflict with the designer.

This again need not necessarily be true. The harmony between aural and aesthetic comforts is ensured by the harmony between the architect and acoustician, which is likely to be the case every time they are together. Being an architect myself, I understand the mindset, and aspirations of the designer on each occasion. I am happy

10. On the future of Indian cinema- next five years… We will build more cinemas, surely. As we build more, there are opportunities to better the current- with more resources of information and materials becoming accessible. So, future bright.

Manoj Mathur Architect, New Delhi 1. On how Indian cinema design changed over the years...

4. On challenges of cinema design today?

To put it in a nutshell, cinemas have changed in two basic aspects, viz., quantity and quality. This change has happened between late 80’s when the last good cinemas were built in major locations, and the present day. Patrons are enjoying the luxury of more space in terms of wider seats, broader tiers, wider aisles, bigger lobbies and rest rooms. Air-conditioning is now almost mandatory, sound and picture have vastly improved, concession stands are better stocked and off-site ticket delivery systems have totally changed the experience. There are more screens in all and every property today strives to be more than just a place to watch a movie.

There is, in a generic sense, very little demand to be different and very little awareness amongst builders. The smart ones are very few. On other hand, the pressure to conform is high as most promoters only want to make a PVR, literally. Greater regulation actually makes the job easier as there is even less left for the designers’ discretion, and new technology and materials provide both standard and custom solutions at the vendors’ end. So, it is quite simple to design a cinema which the client will like. But a little more difficult to engage the public which is not impressed with just ‘being different’ any more, and most difficult to create something which will personally satisfy the designer.

2. On the essentials of today’s cinema design, as compared to that of yester years...

5. On the notion of Indian designers imitating Western models, instead of innovating their own?

There has been a total change in the whole perspective. Size, shape, purpose, functionality all have changed. Size of the auditorium got smaller while the size of the seats inside got bigger, occupying more space. Elevated balconies have given way to elite Gold Classes while large foyers have given space to exclusive lounges. The definition of artistic work in interiors has transformed into aesthetics in sophistication. The elements of focused movie presentation have expanded to incorporate many accessories to ‘makeup’ for a total entertainment package. It was the only entertainment for families outside the home yesterday. The effort today is to make it the same again, but with modern embellishments that are essentially done by design.

3. On differentiating factors other than the more common size, and décor... Most factors already mentioned- like seats, interior comforts, and sound and projection. Another notable differentiation is the products and processes. There is a wider range of materials and information resources available today; there are a lot more entrepreneurial processes (say procedures of project management consultants) that differentiate today’s design activity from that of the yester year. There is a more professional approach to design today. TM-74

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It is always important to make the design work, and making it the easy way is more prudent than inviting unnecessary challenges. The wheel could be re-invented every time but only if new performance standards are demanded. The emphasis is on making the design appeal to senses, need not necessarily be sensuous. So, it may be a point only for the discerning that a particular design is something.

6. On the cinema builder’s and designer’s role in getting proper acoustics to cinema...


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• SPECIAL FEATURE • Again, generically, acoustics is a black box for the cinema builders, it is a cost head about which most know little, and can do even less. The acoustician is, therefore, the magician, and so long as he delivers something which doesn’t sound odd, it is fine. Who is to say that there could be better solutions or indeed what is the trade-off between costs and benefits? I have rarely witnessed an acoustics solution being discussed or debated. The designer here is usually either singing to the acoustician’s tune or, at times, a willing co-conspirator, both roles equally disgusting.

7. On the popular belief that the architect and acoustician are never in line... The belief is said to be based on fact. The reason till recently that acousticians used to operate in a monopoly market they had to take the criticism that they care very little for the design intent, which is considered a product of the designers’ super-charged competitive situation. In such a scenario stakeholders needed to have equitable interest to produce design synergies. I believe things have vastly improved over the past few years, and there is better synergy today.

8. On Indian cinema design expertise as compared to Asian or Western... Indian cinema designs can be easily categorized by style pertaining to particular operators or operator-designer combos and therefore quite predictable. As I have not seen an equal number of Asian or Western cinemas it would be unfair to compare, but generally speaking one comes across something

new in the international arena every quarter, if not morethanks to Theatre World which dishes out such instances every time it comes out. We do not see the same degree happening in India, but then this may be due the difference in the intensity of the activity, or those coming to light.

9. On the right cinema model for Indiamultiplex or single-screen... At the risk of sounding coarsely critical, it can be assumed that right now, no model is right for Indian cinema, considering the software is so pathetic. When was the last time we saw a gripping screen story? If the gross numbers are not there, it is not going to matter whether you put them in one hall or many. Having said that, since we all agree that the aphoristic ‘show must go on,’ a multiplex model would do for urban market – given the multiplicity of the offering and takers for the same – while a single-screen may be still relevant for other areas.

10. On the future of Indian cinema- next five years... As far as cinema building and design concerns, it is assumed to continue to grow. But how brisk is anyone’s guess. Since the country holds a good potential for good cinemas, opportunities are there. However, the kind of software coming into the cinemas, and the smart entertainment choices being made by the prospective patrons, could affect the cinema business as a whole.

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Rahul Jhaveri Jhaveri & Jhaveri Architects & Acousticians, Mumbai Rahul Jhaveri is an integrated professional- architecture, interior designand acoustics put together- which is probably why, the young professional chose to provide ‘integrated tips’ for the exhibition community as a whole. Here are the tips: 1. Design concept of Indian cinema has changed from big screen to multiplexes- more so in metro cities. Towns and hinterland too are slowly beginning to show the signs of change. This has brought forth wider spectrum for viewers. Indian cinema has had very long journey. It is a long journey in terms of technology, budget and embellishments. A journey of mono sound to digital sound. A journey from the ordinary to wall-to-wall massive screens, from 35mm to 70mm claims, and now 3D to 6D formats. 2. Yester rears, cinema design was basically volumetric, with huge cinema halls, with two levels of seating, huge

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screens, art décor ambience and palatial grandeur. The concept was to give a larger-than-life experience with huge screen and large seating capacity, and with stakes for jubilee shows and shields embellishing the showcases in lobbies. 3. It’s totally opposite today. The size shrunk drastically while the design parameters multiplied with multiple combinations of varying capacity auditoria for blockbusters and the 2 nd week movies. With the days of grandiose claims and prestigious décor giving into pure market considerations, cinema design quotient is measured on the ratio of per-seat-spend on the floor


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• SPECIAL FEATURE • plate. Compact models gained precedence over large space movie houses, particularly in metros and other tier-I cities. 4. With a whole paradigm shift in cinema design, it is more of a technical, treated with precision acoustics and aesthetic appeal in the given space, than of an ostentatious display. From a treatment for mono sound, theatres have evolved to Dolby Surround, DTS and SDDS formats. Having said that, the peculiarity of Indian cinema domain still display the remnants of ‘large cinema’- which is why there are cinemas of large space luxury. 5. With voluminous availability of material and information resources for cinema design, the design community today is both benefited and challenged for their ingenuity. There is a fine amalgamation of architecture and acoustics gaining ground in the design domain. 6. With years of exposure to global trends and expertise built into their skill sets, Indian designers have began creating wonderful models of cinema destinations, with ‘sound’ technology. 7. Thanks to the liberalized market economy, Indian design expertise is on par with advanced East and West in accessing the wealth of sophisticated acoustic materials and methodologies.

8. Judging from the current scenario, an ideal cinema model for a multiplex in India is a capacity of 275 to 350 persons per screen. 9. With corporate strengths penetrating deeper into the hinterland, more work for the design community as new genre of theatres emerge onto the scene besides the existing single-screens seeking renovation. 10. With digitisation increasingly becoming immanent, the design quotient will go hand in hand with digital technology. (Theatre Magic thanks the designers for sharing their perspectives and pictorial assistance.)

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Ajay Gautam Gautam & Gautam Architects Faridabad

Theatre World is, probably, one of the best publications one can look up to

when it matters cinema. We did not have a magazine of this kind before, nor we find one in today’s competing markets. Every issue is a revelation, not only for the quality content mix and visual treats it churns out, from across the globe, but also the way they are presented, in terms of expression and printing. It’s like a platform of knowledge exchange between India and the world for the captains, consultants and contractors of the industry. We need this kind of publications for continual updates and enhancement our understanding of the national/international trends.

Dr. Kandaswamy Acoustician Chennai

The art of cinema building had been an item of wonderment for many

in this country, and probably outside, till recently. Today, most of them who are related to the business in any little manner know at least something about it- thanks to Theatre World. More importantly, the cinema entrepreneurial community is benefitting immensely with the magazine in terms of their understanding about the essentials of cinema design and processes available so that they don’t stand to err while deliberating with their designers. The product mix and visual treats are added, pleasant flavours even a disinterested reader.

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Making a Paradigm Shift If there is one cinema company in India that is credited with impacting the industry like never before or none other, it is arguably PVR. Having ushered the industry into the new age cinema a little over 10 years ago, the national circuit continues to breath the same dynamism and vibrancy, and promises to do more, bigger exploits. On the momentous occasion of completing 10 years of inspiring business, Theatre Magic (TM) talks to Pramod Arora, Group President-PVR (PA), its First Person this time, on what drives the company's exploits. Excerpts: TM – It's been 10 years for PVR Cinemas- a period considered to have impacted Indian cinema exhibition industry like never before. How does PVR looks at this notion or conviction? PA – PVR started its commercial operations in 1997 with the launch of India's first multiplex, PVR Saket in New Delhi. It brought a whole new paradigm shift in cinema viewing experience- multiple choice of movies under one roof, comfortable seating, international standard interiors and state of the art sound and projection technology. In a span of ten odd years, PVR now is a national brand with properties across India, making it one of the largest cinema exhibition chains in the country. We are proud of the fact that not only we have been able to cater to consumers at all levels across the country, while expanding its portfolio. After PVR Cinemas, the company forayed in tier-II and tier-III cites with PVR Talkies and the latest offering being the PVR Premiere aimed at bedazzling patrons with offerings never experienced before, setting up a higher benchmark in service and product offerings in the Indian exhibition industry. At the risk of sounding immodest, we believe that we had a significant contribution to the Indian exhibition industry. However, we strongly feel that there is a lot of potential yet, which needs to be tapped. TM – PVR is credited with initiating the concept. How challenging, and reassuring has been the journey- in terms of policy regime, making up the expertise, technology, and management? PA – The policy regime was quite difficult with the entertainment tax being very high at the State level. Fortunately, many State governments realised the potential in the business and started bringing down the ET to reasonable levels, besides giving exemptions. However, the need of the hour is to have uniform cinema regulation across the country harmonising the building bylaws, licensing procedures, ET regime etc.

In terms of modernising cinemas by design, technology, safety features, we have been successful to bring in the best, sometime from outside the country. Our cinemas today are testimonials to that. Having said that, we continue to do so in our pursuit to surpass, every time, the consumer expectations. TM – Ushering in new concepts is always ambitious. How about the management and sensitising people towards them? PA – PVR has been blessed with a great management team with depth and width across all levels. Together, we have made the company into India's one of most preferred brands and will take it to even greater heights. As for sensitising, ever since PVR began pioneering multiplex concept, people fell in love with the concept of watching movies in multiplexes. It did not take much of an effort to sensitise people as any good concept spreads very fast by word of mouth which, of course, is the most powerful medium of marketing / advertising. TM – From a filmed entertainment company over 10 years ago, PVR has more or less evolved into a retail entertainment company. How would you explain this? PA – It is in keeping with our motto to be India's most preferred retail lifestyle entertainment company. We December 2008

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started off with exhibition and then slowly but firmly did a backward integration into distribution and production. Now, we have ventured into newer formats of entertainment such as bowling, ice skating rink, etc which contribute to realising our goal. TM – PVR has been the first Indian cinema company to explore foreign expertise- it still does. What has / have been the driving factor(s) for this conviction? PA – Tie up with a competent JV partner from overseas helps us bring the best in terms of technology and business knowhow. We will continue to be on the lookout for such business alliances that have a strategic fit with our business plans. TM – Contrary to its aggression of new age cinemas, PVR had been very traditional, till now, not exploring the areas ventured by other majors. How do you explain this contrast, if not contradiction?

TM – Another contrast, so to say, is the slowing down of the aggression that's been so synonymous with PVR. Your take ? PA – Part of this answered already. Today, we are at 101 screens across 25 properties, 14 cities, and 10 States of India. We will add significant numbers to that in the coming years. All PVR properties generate footfalls of approximately 20 million in a year and contribute roughly 13 per cent to overall box office revenues.

PA – At the risk of sounding boastful, I can say we led by example- always provided the best in sound, projection and have pioneered concepts such a web-

TM – Despite being a leader, PVR took a good, long time to brace digital (& electronic)

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PA – Not necessarily true. We have at present a total of 19 digital screens of which two are 3D. All our future projects will be digital- which explains our conviction to be the best, and take lead.

TM – Having led the industry from front, how does PVR look at the Indian cinema today- in terms of technology marketing and management, and professionalism?

PA – We believe in taking firm and sure steps. We are bold and aggressive but also exercise the necessary caution. We build brick by brick with a solid foundation.

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cinema that is fancied all over the globe. It is still away from formats like Imax 3D/4D/6D etc. How do you explain this?

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based ticketing etc. The strengths we built into cinema marketing are visible in the fact that we generate 20 million footfalls in a year and highest revenues in the industry. PVR breeds professionals, and pursues professionalism, at every stage. The industry has evolved for the better, taking a cue or two from us. And, it is still growing. TM – What, according to you are its strengths, and weaknesses in comparison with global exhibition industry, in general, and Asian, in particular? PA – Indian industry is dynamic, vibrant, and still young and growing- that the strength, besides the competencies of business acumen. Weaknesses, as I mentioned earlier, includes majorly the multiplicity of regulatory regime. A uniform mechanism, with an industry-friendly ET regime, will provide more encouraging environment for the growth of the industry. TM – Cinema geographies in the advanced Far East, and the West have long evolved to address the art movie exhibition. Indian case has been a far crywith instances of art movies losing the theatrical battle to mainstream movies- your take? PA – We do not believe in art vs commercial cinema debate. A movie is either good or bad. With the arrival of multiplexes all kinds of movies are being experimented with, and a good movie will certainly have its takers too. Finally, any movie that is made must have a commercial value too. TM – There appears a generic sense of imitating Western models of movie exhibition for Indian milieu- ignoring the Indian essentials. Your take? PA – If that means bringing the best from the West here, then the trend needs to be promoted further. Indian essentials and demographics are always kept in mind to make the project viable.

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TM – What is your take on the single-screen industry? PA – They too will have their place in the country of our size. But the days of having 1000-plus seat theatre, and their making commercial sense have gone. TM – Is a takeover by corporate chains the only solution? Then how about the beauty of the traditional model still in demand by large chunks of movie lovers- who are visibly away from multiplex enticement? PA – Corporates brought the best in cinema viewing to the public. So what's wrong with that. I feel the audiences love being pampered and given that extra attention and care TM – What is most critical for a cinema today? a good movie or a good promo? PA – Content has always been the king, and it will be. No amount of promo can save a bad movie or ensure its success as has been quite evident in recent times. TM – Where and how does PVR visualise Indian cinema in the next five years? And, where and how does PVR want to position itself ? PA – There will be better quality of cinema viewing experience on offer to the Indian audiences. There would be further corporatisation of the Industry, access to funds for growth, ET incentives by various State governments, improvement in the quality of content etc. We would like to be the leaders in providing best possible experience to our patrons. TM – Indian players have also begun exploring foreign fortunes. How about PVR doing the same? If so, how and when? PA – We will do so when the opportunity comes by. We are always open to all business propositions that fits into our game plan.


TheatreMagic ::: October-December 2008  
TheatreMagic ::: October-December 2008  
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