India takes luxury cinema concept further

By | June 4, 2008 3:05 am PDT

Do you balk at the prospect of paying $25/£12/€19/Rs 1,000 for a cinema ticket? Then the future of India’s premium cinema market is not one for you. Right now there is a race between the major cinema chains in India to see who can the offer the most luxurious cinema experience to the audience segment with enormous price elasticity. From liveMINT/WSJ.com:

Adlabs Cinemas, an arm of the Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group’s Adlabs Films Ltd, is raising the stakes in the battle for cinema goers’ wallets by launching a chain of stand-alone luxury lounges centred around film.

The cinema chain will open up to a dozen independent 6,000-10,000 sq. ft lounges over the next year, loosely based around the concept of its existing “ebony lounge” format that offers audiences reclining leather chairs and waiter service.

“Cinemas are our iconic statements,” says Tushar Dhingra, chief operating officer of Adlabs Cinemas. “We want to set a world benchmark for the cinematic experience. What we create has the potential to set a trend.”

“It is no-holds-barred. Anything can be done. The premium and mass markets in India are the sweet spot. They are largely unpenetrated, and we are well positioned to move in,” he added.

Adlabs Cinemas is far from alone and will be battling it out with the likes of Fame and PVR, though the latter has reservations about the prospects for the market:

Ajay Bijli, managing director of PVR Cinemas Ltd, says that although the top segment does represent an opportunity, the mass market will continue to provide the bulk of the company’s revenues. “I don’t think that stand-alone gold classes would work,” says Bijli. “It is just a way of catering to more than one audience. But, out of a cinema hall of 500 seats, only up to 40 seats would be gold class.”

I for one love the Adlabs Ebony Lounges, though sadly there are none where I live in Mumbai (yet!) and the Cinemax equivalent is just not as, well, luxurious. However, I find that the typical multiplex hall is as good if not better than what I was used to back in London.

If only it wasn’t for the dim projector. As you might have guessed, my local multiplex is not digital.

Patrick von Sychowski
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Patrick von Sychowski

Patrick was a Senior Analyst at Screen Digest, went on to launch the digital cinema operations of Unique and Deluxe Europe, then digitised Bollywood at Adlabs/RMW, and now writes, consults and appears on panels about cinema all over the world.
Patrick von Sychowski
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