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Legacy & Luxury

When a historic landmark like Metro Cinema that has stood the test of time in the world of Hindi cinema, and a leading multiplex chain like INOX come together, something spectacular is bound to happen. Talking about this wonderful fusion, Alok Tandon, CEO, INOX, tells Box Office India about their latest collaboration, their plans for the future and much more

Tell us something about the collaboration of Metro and Inox.
Metro INOX is the seamless amalgamation of the essence and history of Metro – a true Grande Dame of cinema – and the seven-star luxury experience for which INOX is so well-known. The cinema now offers the perfect mix of legacy and luxury.

Inox cinemas are regarded as lavish ones. How do you take the experience of the audience to the next level?

Inox cinemas are indeed comfortable and take the needs of the movie-goer very seriously. Insignia elevates the already-superior experience to a whole new level. It’s a product of which we are very proud and, which we plan to extend to many more cities across the country. At Metro INOX, the features now include:

Carefully-restored design features including heritage chandeliers and the 1938-era MGM projector from when Metro opened its doors

New décor elements such as a brilliant, LED video wall featuring a plethora of Bollywood’s untold stories, unfolding for the first time, and in this format

Movie memorabilia that will captivate a movie-goer’s imagination, with the 1930s-era projector, a Golden Ticket wall complete with tickets autographed by superstars and Indian cinema’s untold stories that adorn the walls at this cinematic jewel

Ultra-plush auditoriums featuring roomier seats with enhanced leg room

Cutting-edge sound and projection technology, brilliant, razor-sharp 4K visuals and the truest quality cinema surround sound of Dolby Atmos.

Augmented Reality (AR) – a globally-acclaimed experience which will enthrall guests with amazing, life-sized 3D characters and scenes as they’re immersed in a unique, interactive digital environment.

In terms of technology, we have been pioneers in launching tech-based solutions for ordering food and booking tickets, at our multiplexes.

Can you share your plans to expand the chain in future?

We have six new properties with 27 screens in the pipeline, which will launch between December 2017 and March 2018.  Post-FY 2018, we have 558 screens signed up.

Which are the key cities/ states/ regions for INOX’s next phase of expansion?

We are looking at expansion on a pan-India basis. However, our priority markets are NCR, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai.

What kind of team effort goes into maintaining the standards of a leading multiplex chain like INOX?

Team work and efficient planning both play key roles in maintaining our guests’ experience at all our multiplexes. We ensure that we use the best quality infrastructure, whether our projection, sound system, seats and much more. We ensure that the best service is offered to our guests, which we achieve through providing frequent, intensive training to all our staff who interact with guests directly, and through refresher training sessions at regular intervals.

What are the dynamics that you consider before taking over a theatre like Metro or opening a new one?

While opening a new property, we take into consideration the population density of micro markets, the presence of other retail brands in the location, the target market’s propensity to spend in the catchment area, and many other factors.

In the case of Metro, the decision was easier due to the legacy and history of the property, and its place in Indian cinema. It has been one of the most-loved movie-viewing destinations for generations, and continues to be. We’re very pleased to be a part of this cinema’s heritage and to offer it to movie-goers once again, with the touches of luxury that our brand is known to provide. 

Is there a demographic criterion to selecting a property for your theatre chain?
Our rule of thumb is to not select locations where the population is less than 3 lakh as per the 2011 census.

Some experts feel that the next level of growth in the Indian exhibition sector will come from smaller towns and centres. What’s your take on that?
We have believed in this for a while now and therefore have a significant presence in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns. The screen density with respect to the population is still quite low in India and hence there is good scope for expansion in smaller towns and centres.

How do you source feedback from the audience and take it into consideration?

We get feedback from our guests when they visit our properties through feedback forms, as well as through direct interaction of our staff with the guests. With the advent of social media, many guests provide feedback on our Facebook page, as well as on Twitter. We send a ‘thank you’ email to all our guests who book tickets through our website as well as on our app, and request them for feedback as well through this medium. Complaints are treated very seriously; we aim to resolve each one in a timely manner and respond to our guests within 24 hours of receiving their complaint.

Do you think digitisation has taken away a chunk of the movie-going crowd side, especially with the coming of Netflix and Amazon?
We firmly believe that movie-watching is an experience in India and hence watching a movie at a theatre is here to stay. Also, in India, movie-viewing is generally a group activity either with family, friends or colleagues and this experience cannot be replicated by players in the digital space.

How do you deal with the rising complaints of high ticket prices?
Besides content, our ticket prices depend on the facilities provided and infrastructure used to offer a premium movie-viewing experience. We believe that our ticket prices are value for money.

Is there a case to be made for differential pricing depending on the size/ profile of a film?
Our ticket prices are dependent on time of day, day of the week and popularity of content.

In a year like 2017, where the quality of content has been unstable, are there any steps you take as an exhibitor to ensure a regular flow of viewers?
We have taken steps to ensure that we showcase a variety of alternative content. In the past, we have done this for live streaming of sports content such as the IPL, World Cup Cricket and FIFA, to name a few. We have showcased documentaries such as the National Geographic’s Before The Flood, which was much appreciated by our guests. Recently, we had a fabulous response for shows of David Gilmour Live at Pompeii, which is based on the concert of Pink Floyd at Pompeii. This approach allows us to give audiences content that they may not have access to anywhere else, which we believe they appreciate.

To what extent do the government-enforced changes like demonitisation and GST affect an established cinema chain like INOX?
Demonetisation affected us only in the first two weeks, post-implementation. People adapted to the use of digital modes of payment quite quickly, so this did not adversely affect us.

What is your outlook for the Indian exhibition sector for 2018 and beyond?
The outlook is promising and we are confident. Some factors which add to our confidence are the growing middle class’s spending power, content proliferation, especially regional, and the kind of technology being added to movie-viewing experiences e.g IMAX, Atmos, etc.

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