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Explained: How PVR has mapped out its reopening, from COVID-19 protocols to incentivising vaccinations

·6 min read

Multiplex chain PVR Cinemas on Thursday announced that its theatres will be reopening from 30 July with all of its staff fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a statement, PVR said that its cinemas will resume operations from 30 July in states and union territories that have allowed theatres to reopen.

How will the reopening of theatres go about?

As the country witnesses a steady decline in the number of COVID-19 cases, states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have permitted the resumption of operations in cinema halls.

In Delhi, theatres were allowed to reopen from Monday at 50 per cent occupancy.

What is the JAB offer?

To encourage and thank people who got vaccinated during the nationwide vaccination drive, PVR has introduced a ''JAB Offer'' for the customers.

As part of the scheme, one vaccinated guest can get another ticket free on select content as well as one F&B Combo free with the purchase of another in the first week of reopening.

Which are films that are lined up?

The multiplex chain said it will continue to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs), mandated by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, as part of normal safety and hygiene standards.

PVR will be screening some of the major Hollywood titles that are set to release in the country in the coming weeks.

This includes The Suicide Squad (5 August), Mortal Kombat (30 July) and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Devil Do It (13 August), as well as NBCUniversal's titles Promising Young Woman (6 August), Old (13 August), Fast & Furious 9 (19 August), The Croods: A New Age and Nobody (27 August).

PVR speak

Ajay Bijli, Chairman and Managing Director at PVR Ltd, said that after the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the company's focus has been on vaccinating its entire staff.

"We are excited to re-open and the slate for this year looks promising. The strategy is to showcase maximum content across screens to meet the pent-up demand. So, with big-ticket Bollywood and Regional films awaiting announcement by producers and internationally released Hollywood content as cinemas open up post the second wave, we expect the movie-going habits to return among patrons," he said in a statement.

"The focus now will be to encourage vaccination alongside introducing our new offerings as we begin to win back the confidence of our audience back to big-screen entertainment," he added.

What are the precautionary measures being taken?

In addition to vaccinated staff, PVR will continue to maintain stringent hygiene protocols, social distancing and food safety measures, along with minimal human contact across all touchpoints.

Chequered seating with only 50 percent occupancy as per state government protocols, social distancing marked queuing, digital contactless transactions, operating 50 percent of the restroom facilities, installation of fibre and glass shields and regular sanitisation of its premises are some of the safety initiatives that it follows.

Vaccination incentives

The company has also motivated its staff to come forward and vaccinate themselves and their dependents by reimbursing the cost of vaccination following the national vaccination drive to ensure they are 100 per cent vaccinated before cinemas reopen.

Gautam Dutta, CEO of PVR Limited, said the company is excited to welcome customers back to theatres and offer them the "real cinema experience".

"It is a very heart-warming development for us and ensuring the safety and security of our customers and employees is our foremost responsibility. All the ground level staff, employees across our cinemas is 100 percent Vaccinated.

"PVR has always endeavoured to offer unique experiences and we certainly look forward to welcoming our patrons with fresh content, innovative and attractive offers on both tickets and F&B to enjoy movies exclusively with one's friends and family," he added.

What do the financial losses look like?

Leading multiplex chain operator PVR Ltd on Thursday reported a consolidated net loss of 219.55 crore for the first quarter ended June 2021, due to a hit on its film exhibition business amid COVID-induced lockdowns.

The company had posted a net loss of Rs 225.73 crore in the April-June quarter a year ago, said PVR in a BSE filing.

Its revenue from operations was at Rs 59.39 crore during the quarter under review. It was Rs 12.70 crore in the corresponding quarter last fiscal.

PVR's total expenses were at Rs 417.06 crore in Q1/FY 2021-22.

"COVID-19 continued to adversely impact the operations and financial performance of the company in the first quarter. The second wave of Covid-19 surprised everyone with its rapid spread of infection, which led to localised lockdowns and curfews announcements by various state governments. Our entire cinema network was shut down, in a staggered manner, in April 2021 and continues to remain shut till date," said PVR in a post earning statement.

As the COVID-19 situation normalises in the country, various state governments have restarted economic activities, including the re-opening of cinemas, it added.

"As of 29 July, 2021, 12 states and two UTs in India and Colombo, Sri Lanka, where PVR has a presence, have allowed cinemas to restart operations with restrictions around timings and other social distancing requirements. These states/UTs account for 526 screens across 111 properties," said PVR.

During the current financial year, PVR had availed additional borrowings of Rs 200 crore under the government's ECLGS (Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme) scheme.

"This has further strengthened the liquidity position of the company. As on 30 June, 2021, the company had total liquidity of Rs 850 crore (including undrawn sanctioned credit lines)," it said.

Consequent to the spurt of the second wave, PVR has initiated discussion with its landlords for complete waiver of rental and common area maintenance (CAM) charges during the lockdown period as announced by various governments.

"Since most of the discussions are currently under progress and are likely to be completed over next few months, we will recognise these concessions/rebates in accordance with the applicable accounting standards," said PVR.

Pending settlement with landlords, the PVR group has accounted for CAM charges amounting to Rs 32.46 crore in the statement of profit and loss for the quarter ended on 30 June, 2021.

Commenting on the results, PVR Chairman cum Managing Director Ajay Bijli said as an organisation, its priority during the last quarter was to vaccinate all our employees and the company has achieved the target.

"As the COVID-19 situation continues to improve in the country with the increasing pace of vaccination, I am confident that the cinema business will bounce back strongly," he said adding "the content line up across Bollywood, Regional Hollywood movie industry is exciting and I am sure it will entice customers to step out of their homes and enjoy the movies on the screen."

Shares of PVR Ltd on Tuesday settled at Rs 1,360.30 apiece on the BSE, up 1.82 per cent, from the previous close.

(With inputs from Press Trust of India)

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