Since its inception in 1997, PVR’s multiplex business has been on an upswing. A decade later, in 2007, after having established 23 properties in various parts of India, PVR Cinemas is still flourishing.
Now for the company, its distribution arm, PVR Pictures (acquired by PVR Limited in 2005) will be the focus area. While currently the division only looks into India theatrical distribution of Hindi and English films through its six offices; plans are afoot to set up more offices in India and overseas and also launch a home video label.
Furthermore, at Cannes this year PVR Pictures also acquired 15 English films for content exploitation including theatrical, satellite/television and home video rights on an all India basis. They are also gearing up for the release of Aamir Khan Productions’ two films, which are also co-produced by the company.
PVR Films Cell CEO Ashish Saksena gives an insight to Businessofcinema.com into PVR Pictures’ operational strategies.
What kind of investment is being pumped in for this year’s growth? Which area of operation is on the priority list?
We are looking at both production and distribution, because we think we are very well poised to be a complete entertainment company. We are already well established in exhibition. Distribution has been there, but we are just ramping now.
In this financial year we will release two of our production films, which are the two Aamir Khan Production films – Taare Zameen Par and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.
Apart from this, I cannot comment on investment figures at this moment.
You mentioned that film distribution is also your main agenda this year as is production, so can you elaborate on your distribution strategy?
It is difficult to say whether distribution on minimum guarantee (MG) basis or on commission is better, as each has its own pros and cons. These days distributing films on a commission basis is not an easy deal, especially with such a huge flow of films, whereby sometimes the films do not get released properly. So in some cases it is better to pay MG and release the film.
We are open to acquiring bigger films however we avoid bidding outrageously. We ultimately acquire films, which work for our film exhibition circuit.
So it will continue to be a mix of both for us.
It appears like, except for Omkara, Don and a few other movies most of your acquisitions were small budget films, which see a minimal print release. Is it correct?
We have not done a big mainstream film on an all India basis, we have done it on a territory basis and that is the way it is normally done. In Delhi UP and East Punjab territory we have distributed a lot of big films.
What we have distributed on an all India basis may be smaller films and not the regular mainstream pot boiler films. For instance, we couldn’t have handled a film like Partner on an all India basis because it is too expensive for us. But we distributed the Amitabh Bachchan starrer Cheeni Kum in Nizam. So distributing big films like these in certain territories is financially more viable for us.
Basically our distribution strategy was always aligned to our exhibition strategy. We distributed the films normally in the territories where we have our own multiplexes present. However, we are now ready to distribute all the films on national level as we now have an all India set-up. On an all India basis Aamir Khan’s films will be the biggest films to be done by us.
What are your plans as far as distribution in the overseas is concerned?
We will set up our overseas offices in this financial year itself. Barring Aamir Khan’s films, in the future all other films will be distributed by us in the overseas.
But where and when we set up these offices depends on what our first release will be. If it is a small film then we will not go all out, but if it is a relatively bigger film then we will plan accordingly.
So who will distribute Aamir Khan’s films in the overseas?
UTV is in talks for overseas distribution for these two films. < Page Break >
By when will your home video label roll out and what will it be called?
Home video will not be rolled out this year. It is on the anvil for our next financial year. We do not want to get into our home video label now, due to profitability issues. There is just too much happening at one time. We want to stagger it a little bit.
The home video rights of Aamir Khan’s films will also be handed over to another party.
The home video rights for the current lot of English films too will be sold outside, but we haven’t struck a deal yet. So far, everything was sold to Eros, so let’s see.
With a partner in Aamir Khan, is it likely that PVR will extend the two film deal with him?
At this point nothing can be said. His part of the deal of producing the movies has been completed. Our part of the deal to distribute the movies is yet to be executed. So after everything happens successfully we can hopefully look at something.
You also recently signed a two film deal worth Rs 60 crore with Rajkumar Santoshi. Can you give some more insight into this deal?
We are still in the final stages of discussion with Rajkumar Santoshi.
Are you looking forward at signing more directors or producer? Does the company have any set targets on their agenda?
Yes we are looking to seriously get into production but we are in no hurry. We want to evaluate projects well, but at the same time not get into too much of an analysis-paralysis situation. We want to be judicious about selection of projects.
So PVR Pictures will continue to be involved with co-production of movies, develop, market and distribute the content?
We will be looking at all options viz co-production, production, English and Hindi distribution, all India and territorial distribution and even overseas distribution.
With Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and Aaja Nachle releasing in the next few months what is your current working relation and sharing ratio with Yash Raj Films?
This year all of Yash Raj’s films have released and will continue to release in all PVR properties. We would not like to comment on the sharing ratio. Let us just say that it is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both PVR and Yash Raj.
How much does PVR Pictures contribute towards PVR’s overall revenues and profits?
Right now, it very less, approximately three per cent, which comes mainly from distribution. Remaining ninety seven per cent comes in from exhibition.
But over the next three years we want to take it up to 20 per cent.