Indian exhibition company Pyramid Saimira Theatre (PSTL) has become the first Indian cinema operator to enter the US market with the acquisition of FunAsia cinema, radio and banquet halls (!) operation in Texas. The exhibitor operates 11 screens in Houston and six in Dallas where it mainly shows Hindi (Bollywood) films, making it the largest Asian theatre chain in the US. The acquisition was covered in most of the India press, given the uniqueness of the international expansion – though Pyramid already operates cinemas outside India in Malaysia and Singapore – with the best being in the financial press, such as the Business Standard:
“The US and Canada are big markets for Hindi and south Indian movies, and we intend to increase the number of screens of FunAsia in the US to 60 by the end of this fiscal from the present 23 screens by expanding to about 15 locations,” P S Saminathan, managing director, PSTL, said.
PSTL has four subsidiaries for film production, distribution and international theatre business, and each one will have separate fund-raising programmes, he added.
The company is also looking at aggressively expanding in the high-margin food and beverages business to boost its bottom line. While it is exploring the option of floating a separate company for the food and beverage business in India, it also intends to set up 10 food courts, involving an investment of about Rs 15 crore, in its multiplexes across the country under the brand name Cafe Pyramid this fiscal.
And the Economic Times:
The acquisition was made through its subsidiary Pyramid Saimira Entertainment America, and is aimed at targeting 80 to 90 per cent of share in the Asian film market.As the US and Canada are the second major overseas markets for Hindi and South Indian films, the company planned to set up 60 screens at 15 locations in those countries by the end of the current fiscal, PSTL Managing Director P S Saminathan told reporters here.
Declining to divulge the value of the acquisition, he said FunAsiA complexes included 17 screens with 4,765 seats and catered to South Asians in north America. PSTL would make a foray into the UK market in the third quarter, he added.
While the acquisition is significant, it comes not long after the failure of the more ambitious take over attempt of Australian exhibitor Hoyts. However, this is a foot in the door of the US market and if it is to be by targeting the more obvious NRI (non0resident Indians) market first, so be it, Pyramid must be speculating.