Miraj's Amit Sharma bullish about adding more theatres

Amit Sharma (Pic courtesy: Economic Times)

Miraj cinemas head honcho Amit Sharma has changed the way people view cinema; he has carved a niche for himself as he started with Miraj cinemas giving the consumers affordable ticket rates.

The cinema has never failed to entertain the audience and give them the feel good ambience and infrastructure at nominal rates. Miraj cinemas reached out to every rural areas and areas where ticket rates weren’t affordable. Amit Sharma made sure the mode of entertainment was not limited to only A-class cinema viewers, 5 years and Amit has made sure that people enjoy cinema viewing like never before.

Ruchita Mishra in conversation with Amit Sharma as he speaks about the changing times of cinema viewing and how Miraj cinemas has been the game changer.

Experts from the interview:

How has the journey of Miraj cinemas been?
It started 5 years back when I decided to make Miraj cinemas as one of the most affordable theatres. I understood the consumer behaviour and planned a way out that it should benefit the middle class not catering to a very high class as well as not a premium belt. So either there was a multiplex offering a ticket at Rs. 500 or a single screen offering a ticket at Rs. 100 for the same film, there was nothing in between 100 - 300. Here the idea of Miraj took birth, to offer cine goer something in between say for Rs. 200 giving the same ambience of 300. Today if the average ticket price is at Rs. 200, we are on average at 115 - 120. Miraj came as an option for the middle class who enjoy watching movies on screen but due to the alleged overpricing restrict their passion.

Furthermore...
We started in Ajmer with zero screens and today we have crossed 100 screens spreading across the length and breadth of the country. At present Miraj has more than 100 screens across India, and we focus on areas where we know that the demand for such audience is high. Each month we try and cater to larger audience.

How do you analyze your growth?
The growth is organic and we have not acquired any running multiplex chain, we have acquired a running single screen theatre sensing the potential and modified it into a multiple screen theatre. We have premium set up where the demand is more, and affordable tickets where the demand is less. I don’t want anyone to not have access to entertainment, a place like Kalyan has a larger audience but cinema-viewing medium is almost negligible.

Is there a competition with other middle range cinemas like Cinemax or Carnival?
No, not at all as we know where we are heading and our majority of target market is rural area where the access of cinemas is not there. It depends on how much money you have in your kitty and how much value you can add to the investment. Either organic or buying at premium both are fine. We have premium set up at Gurgaon with luxury seating, as the market there is huge and big. Over here we have Anupam mall and the price is nominal. Every theatre has their own USP for us its nominal rate with good service and comfortable cinema viewing. We believe in providing maximum service at minimum rate.

Is there a criterion that certain films will get more screens as compared to the other films?
No, we at Miraj cinemas don’t look at the market that way, whichever film is in demand we supply. We take into consideration the audiences need and demand. All kinds of movies are running in Miraj cinemas. At present CAPTAIN MARVEL is doing good, we also have this weekly demand of films, there are complaints and it’s not just the makers of regional cinema who are complaining, we are alleged by the Hindi movie producers as well. See, we are exhibitors and we will be happy to run a movie for long that brings audience.
 
Has OTT platform affected the audiences of cinema viewing?
No, I feel that OTT has helped a lot in cinema viewing for the audience, there are so many films that come on OTT that help people view the film and the audience wait for the franchise to release in theatres. For instance the Marvel series, many OTT has given access to film and the viewers are waiting for the franchise of the film. In the film industry we all - the producer, actor, exhibitor are a team. We should be working together and not just securing our homes. The case over here was that the producer are securing their home by giving OTT rights to his film 3 weeks after the theatrical release. By doing this, the audience may delay watching the film in a cinema theatre unless and until it’s a movie featuring a superstar. Globally there are norms and box office is a major source of revenue for movies. Globally the gap between theatre and OTT platform is 120 days. Problem started when OTT was given the access by the producer in three weeks. Now it’s agreed upon 8 weeks, which is applicable to all movies and producers big or small. India has a potential of 10,000 plus multiplexes, we are around half way mark only and more avenues will be explored in future. Coming to the threat, we started watching movies without sound, then came the sound, followed by colour, 70mm, 3D, Dolby, Imax and it will keep on adding. Similarly, television, satellite, video, digital, online streaming the OTT industry will also evolve. If you were interested in watching videos online, one day you will be tempted to have a bigger experience, like a street food enthusiast one day would love to get the experience of fine dining. As far as watching cinema on big screen is a passion, the exhibition industry will be evolving and can never remain stagnant.

What is your future plan?
I am planning to open several more theatres by the end of this year; mainly in rural areas and Northern belt. I will be making more and more screens at places where there is no theatre, there are rural areas wherein we see there is no cinema and over there I can put up Miraj cinemas.