Residents welcome five-screen multiplex at launch ceremony. PHOTO: EXPRESS
For the older generation which remembers the era of the 1970s and 1980s, Hyderabad once enjoyed a thriving cinema scene. The interconnecting roads in the cantonment and city areas were dotted with over half a dozen film theatres, each located at a distance of around half a kilometre.
Many others were found in other parts of the downtown. The film-goers were also in abundance. But this all changed over the last two decades.
A downward spiral in the revenue generation and a lack of quality films prompted owners of the movie theaters to call it a day.
According to an estimate, up to 20 cinemas have been razed so far in Hyderabad – they stand replaced with residential buildings and commercial plazas.
Consequently, the young generation is now barely aware that a certain apartment building stands over a bulldozed cinema. The taste of the cinema seems lost.
Against this backdrop of cinema oblivion, the Cinepax, a cinema chain with 11 multiplexes in eight cities of the country, has come to Hyderabad with five screens under one roof.
“We know that there is a lack of entertainment facilities for the people of Hyderabad. We are going to fulfill their need for cinematic entertainment,” Hashim Raza, chief executive of the company, told the audience at a launching ceremony in Boulevard Mall on Tuesday night.
A select group of guests were invited to the launch during which two movies in halls two and three were also screened – a Bollywood blockbuster in the latter and a Hollywood flick in the former. The cinema will be open to public from Friday (today) while online booking has already begun.
“I always wanted to enjoy the thrill of a multiplex like the ones in Karachi in our own city,” exclaimed Seema Qureshi, a young woman, who along with her family watched Jason Statham’s Mechanic: Resurrection in hall three. “I couldn’t believe [after watching the movie] that the screen, sound and overall experience here [Cinepax Hyderabad] was not different in any way from [multiplexes in] Karachi.”
Zubair Rizvi, a retired bureaucrat who recalled watching films in the now-demolished New Majestic and Chandni cinemas in the Cantonment believed that the long interlude of cinema absence in Hyderabad may finally be over. “The environment of this multiplex seems far better than the old cinemas’,” he commented.
The screen sizes and seating capacity in all the five halls vary. The biggest screen, 50 feet in size, is placed in hall number three in which there are 263 seats. Up to 900 people can be seated in all five halls at one time.
Hall number one with a comparatively small screen has only 35 seats for the most expensive platinum class tickets at Rs950 per person. The ticket for the ‘low’ priced silver category can be bought for Rs600 while the gold class is for Rs800. However, during weekdays, the ticket price will drop to Rs250 for the silver category.
The Cinepax also happens to be the biggest investment in Hyderabad’s entertainment industry as the CEO claimed that the project cost the company around Rs300 million. “The cost of setting up just one hall is between Rs20 million to Rs25 million,” he claimed.
Despite the hefty investment and out-of-this world movie entertainment for an entertainment-starved city like Hyderabad, several odds are stacked against Cinepax.
For reawakening the dormant cinema scene of the city, the company has planned a publicity campaign engaging radio and cable ads, billboards and streamers.
However, the facility’s remote location in SITE area is likely to be a deterrent for Hyderabad’s citizens who, unlike their counterparts in Karachi, do not travel long distances in their daily life.
Raza, while talking to The Express Tribune, acknowledged the distance issue. But he explained that considerations like security, parking, proximity to a commercial centre and huge space required for the five halls made the Boulevard Mall the best available choice. The mall itself is yet to open.
Nevertheless, the company appears confident about the venture’s prospects. “Hyderabad is as much attractive [for the venture] as Faisalabad, Multan and even Rawalpindi,” said Raza, referring to a promising market study for their venture carried out by Neilson Pakistan.
“We are even planning to launch a multiplex in Sukkur after this,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2016.