PVR Inox, India’s biggest theatre chain, has launched the only standalone IMAX property in the country. The company has converted Delhi’s age-old Priya Cinema, located at Basant Lok Complex, Vasant Vihar, into a ‘state-of-the-art’ experience, equipped with IMAX Laser projection for large-scale viewing. While other IMAX theatres in the country house regular theatre formats and projections alongside, this marks the first time an entire cinema is dedicated to IMAX screenings. As one of the oldest PVR properties, it features a single-screen with a 316-seater setup, with ticket prices ranging anywhere from Rs. 400 to Rs. 1,000 depending on what show you opt for.
“We are extremely pleased to upgrade our first and most iconic cinema, PVR Priya into a modern-day representation of a truly immersive cinematic experience like IMAX,” Ajay Bijli, Managing Director, PVR INOX Ltd. said in a prepared statement. “Non-Hindi Indian movies and Hollywood movies have indeed broken the thresholds of geographical and language barriers being dubbed in multiple languages aided by their larger than life appeal and immersive formats such as IMAX has helped in expanding the movie viewing market.” This is, of course, referring to the recent ‘Barbenheimer’ movie event, which turned a profit for Indian cinemas struggling to keep up with streaming. The company’s revenue saw a big bump in July, which came blasting in with three major Hollywood blockbusters — Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Barbie, and Oppenheimer.
Imax and Laser Projection Cost More, but It’s Worth It for the Theatre Experience
The last of them led the Indian market, breaking past the 100-crore mark at the box office, with many visiting IMAX theatres to experience it the way ‘Christopher Nolan intended it.’ Even the Tom Cruise-led action affair received similar IMAX treatment and at the time of writing, they’re both currently playing at Priya Cinema, Delhi. That said, in order to keep the business running, PVR Inox needs to have IMAX format movies available to show at regular intervals, which is seemingly difficult with the ongoing Hollywood actors’ and writers’ strike that has halted major productions. Even Dune: Part 2, which was slated for release in November — with IMAX as a focus — might get delayed into 2024, as its starry cast would be unable to promote or do any interviews for the film.
So, unless more local, Indian productions step in to shoot in IMAX — during the Hollywood downtime — Priya Cinemas will be forced to show non-IMAX films, which technically goes against its advertising. PVR Inox Managing Director Bijli even confirmed the same in a recent interview — there’s bound to be a lot of that unless Hollywood studios and the actors and writers’ unions come to a fair agreement. Shooting on standard 2K cameras is way cheaper, which is why most Indian productions opt for it. “India is fast emerging as one of the most exciting global cinema markets thanks to its passionate audiences and their love for Indian and Hollywood filmmaking alike, and we are pleased to further partner with PVR INOX to meet surging demand for The IMAX Experience,” Rich Gelfond, CEO, IMAX said in a press release.
Once the ‘Barbenheimer’ craze is over, cinemas around the world will suffer a similar situation as the pandemic era, which caused moviegoers to stay at home. Fearing the worst, most major productions have shifted their release dates, with Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse being a key player, as its actors cannot do any voiceover work during the strike. Meanwhile, Kraven the Hunter, which was slated to drop in October, has been postponed to August 2024.