From providing a wholesome entertainment experience with the perfect blends of the best of sound and display technologies to uber comfortable interiors like reclining chairs and disabled friendly infrastructure, Miraj Cinemas – one of the fastest growing theatre chains in India – has crossed the 100-screen milestone in just five short years.
Talking about the rapid expansion, Amit Sharma, MD, Miraj Entertainment, says: “Currently, we have 110 screens operational in 37 cities and we have signed another 225 screens which will be operational soon.”
Since the inception of the brand, Miraj has been venturing into unexplored parts of India in a bid to help the movie watching medium reach Indian masses. “In India, there are 10,000 screens out of which 3,000 are multiplex screens, so, either you have premium cinema chains or single screens. There is hardly anything between these two segments and Miraj has tried to fit into that category where consumers are provided with a premium, feel-good, state of art technology, which delivers comfort and luxury along with wide variety of F&B options at affordable prices,” he says.
“This is the reason why we feel that for us there is no competition for us in the market as we have a different kind approach when it comes to the movie exhibition business.
We focus more on value added services in an affordable price range. The competition currently between cinema hall chains is happening only in the premium segment in India There are only 4 to 5 players who offer a premium movie watching experience, in about 2,200 screens spread across the country,” he explains.
The Movie & F&B Success Combo
We make it a point to study and understand the taste buds of regional audiences. We understand the market requirement and then craft a menu for a particular area. From regional specialties to international foods, we take care of our consumers by providing them mouth-watering food and a variety of options,” says Sharma.
Miraj Cinemas currently offer 140 different F&B options for consumers to choose from. Their greatest hits are fresh food and exotic offerings.
“Currently, food contributes 25 percent of the overall revenue for Miraj Cinemas,” adds Sharma.
Location Strategy & Business Model
Cinema is a micro-dynamic market and when it comes to finalising the location for opening a movie hall, there are some fundamental factors that should be considered including understanding the movie consumption pattern in the country. In India, this pattern varies from state to state, and even city to city.
The other considerations are ticket prices, F&B consumption patterns at cinemas and the catchment in a particular area. “We are expanding at a 50:50 ratio in big and small towns. From a cinema exhibition point of view, right now everybody is trying to get into the metro cities.
However, brands keep forgetting that there is a substantial chunk of urban population in Tier II & III cities. We have placed 50 percent of our cinemas in these Tier II & III cities in a bid to cater to this urban population,” he says.
The brand targets malls which can provide them with an area of 1 to 5 lakh sq. ft. so they can provide consumers with the kind of quality that has come to be expected from Miraj Cinemas. A good mall with good location, great brand mix, layout and mall positioning adds to the brand building exercise for a relatively late entrant like Miraj.
The cinema chain normally signs a rental agreement with malls for a minimum of 18 to 24 years. In malls, the brand works on different business models, believing in a win-win situation.
“We have different arrangements with malls like a pure lease model based on fixed rental, minimum guarantee or revenue sharing percentage per annum – whichever is higher and minimum guarantee or occupancy based percentage per annum – whichever is higher,” explains Sharma.
“Our revenue sharing model is a certain percent of our net collection, which typically is the box office revenue plus café revenue plus service charges and GST. The percentage purely depends on the city/ region and mall positioning,” he adds.
The brand is leaving no stone unturned to offer an experience which other players in the premium segment are offering and more. Miraj has top quality BARCO BB screens equipped with the best of projectors and sound quality which offer the best viewing experience. We already use DOLBY ATMOS and best sound ATMOS in the majority of our locations,” states Sharma.
They stand apart from other players in the innovations they have introduced to enhance the overall customer experience. These include:
Pop-Express: A kiosk where customers can enter their seat numbers along with their orders to be delivered at their seats. This prevents them from standing in the long queues to order their food.
Tie Up the App ‘Chill’: By downloading this app, customers can order from the luxury of their seats while enjoying the movie. Food will be delivered to them on their seats. The brand is working on introducing its own app, which is expected to be functional in the next six months.
“We are also in the process of introducing interactive screens at waiting halls to engage consumers sitting and waiting to enter these halls. These huge screens will be interacting with the consumers in the real-time. We also have play-stations deployed in waiting areas,” says Sharma.
These innovative experiences are available at the select cinema halls currently, but Sharma says Miraj will be implementing these in remaining cinema halls soon. Miraj has also eliminated the ‘box-office’ at Miraj Maximum Metropolis Gurugram.
“74 percent of our consumers book their tickets online and the other 24 percent get it from the kiosk deployed inside the cinema hall complex. This not only helps us save on running costs but also helps in being innovative,” says Sharma.
Going ahead, Miraj Cinema’s growth will be much faster where it aims to touch the 200-screen milestone pan India by March 2020. This aggressive expansion will be filled by an investment of Rs 200 crore by the company from internal accrual and a mix of debt and equity.