Sunday, December 24, 2006

Movie challenge

I was reminded of Mark Cuban's challenge, asking for ideas to attract people into movie theaters, when I visited the PVR Gold Class movie theater.

I had the privilege to go watch a movie at the PVR Gold Class theater at the Forum Mall in Bangalore. My friend with whom I went had to make advance reservations in order to get into it. At Rs. 500 a pop, it is commendable that they run full house. To compare, movie tickets in India start at around Rs. 30 and run up to Rs. 75 or Rs. 80 for balcony tickets. I agree, the demographics of movie goers in India is totally different. But still, being able to charge more than a 10x premium AND getting it, is a model worth looking into.

For those who haven't heard about or experienced the Gold Class, it is a typical movie theater with a big screen and great sound system. Where it stands apart is the 'experience'. As soon as you walk in, you are greeted into a lounge area (check this for a rendition of one such lounges). One can order drinks and snacks at the bar and relax in this plush lounge. A few minutes prior to the start of the movie, you are ushered into the theater. This again, is another area where Gold Class stands apart. The theater consists of 32 plush individual recliners with lots of leg room to spare. The recliners are operated using an electric switch and can literally get into a sleeping position. A switch on the recliner summons a steward who serves you a variety of drinks and food. You can stretch out, relax, enjoy the movie while experiencing the great service. Their Ad promises to treat you like a star, which it does deliver.

I think this unique experience is what draws crowds even at such exorbitant prices. What is lacking is the service and unique experience in the US movie theaters.

With today's Plasma HDTVs, movie projectors and state-of-art sound systems in people's homes, the theaters need to offer something much more compelling than just a big screen and a good sound system.