Rise in operational expense 'necessary devil', but savings on other fronts to offset this cost: PVR
Rise in operational expense 'necessary devil', but savings on other fronts to offset this cost: PVR

Leading multiplex operator PVR, which is all set to reopen from Friday after nearly seven months for public screening, has said cost savings on account of lesser manpower, truncated food and beverages menu and other costs will make up for rise in operational expenses due to mandatory standard operating procedure (SoP).

Multiplexes and cinema halls will also face some other challenges as they need to spend addition time on cleaning and sanitisation immediately after shows get over and then have to be ready for the next screening.

To woo cinema lovers back to auditorium, PVR along with its channel partners are incentivising the customers by announcing 30 per cent discount on gift cards and special offers to 10 million privilege cardholders.

Besides, PVR is also working on a pricing matrix that includes a ticket price of as low as Rs 69 for old and rerun films. "Smaller cities would have larger discounts and in the larger city, we are also looking at discounting but to a lesser degree," PVR Joint Managing Director Sanjeev Kumar Bijli told PTI.

Terming the increase in operation expenditure (opex) as a "necessary devil", he said it could not be avoided. The company has incurred capital expenditure as well in procuring certain equipment and other products including sanitisation machines all over the cinema chain. "As far as the increase is concerned, we have to cut corners somewhere else. So of course, we are not looking at full staff capacity at the moment because we know that our occupancies may be low to begin with," Bijli said. Fewer shows means lesser power consumption, fewer truncated menu means lesser food costs, he explained.

"So, somebody will have to strike a balance and you have to make up for this increase in opex because you cannot simply avoid it," he said.

PVR has conducted dry run on Thursday by having a special screening for its employees and COVID-19 warriors such as police personnel, doctors, nurses etc.

"We are opening from tomorrow," he said while expecting business normalcy to return only after new releases.

Assuring viewers on health safety front, Bijli said that PVR has even gone a step beyond those guidelines issued by the government.

"We have in the last few months adopted best practices from the GCF, which is the Global Cinema Federation, from across the world. And we have actually added, I would say at least 20 to 30 per cent, more safeguards and guidelines. Safety is paramount," he said.

PVR Cinemas, India's largest film exhibitor with 845 screens in 176 properties across 71 cities, on Wednesday said 10 states and four union territories have given their go-ahead for the reopening of cinemas.

Accordingly, PVR is starting operations in 487 screens and hoping that other states will soon give their green signal too. Ushering in a new era of movie watching, the Union government allowed multiplexes, cinema halls and theatres to reopen from Thursday within the framework of a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs). The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) left it to states to take a final call on the matter. The SoPs mandated by the Union government include one seat distance in halls, 50 per cent capacity, masks at all time, proper ventilation and air conditioner temperature settings at above 23 degrees celsius.

Under the new SoP, the cleaning time of an auditorium has also gone up as it has to be properly sanitised before another show.

"As far as cleaning time is concerned, we will be taking the double-time. Normally, our turnaround time is 20 minutes and require 40 minutes now to sanitise and clean each and every auditorium after the show," he said adding that it would allow them to accommodate at least four shows a day.

Moreover, timing has to be changed as some states have put a time limit in the night for commercial activities and multiplexes cannot run show after that period.

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Free Press Journal