Mexico’s Cinepolis plans Indian foray

Latin American exhibitor expands global reach

MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s top exhibitor Cinepolis is set to expand its global footprint as it opens the first of many plexes later this year in India.

The chain has said it will initially light up 110 screens in eight major cities over the next two to three years, with eventual expansion to 500 screens in 40 cities, including in the metros by 2017.

Cinepolis touts itself as the fifth-largest chain in the world and the first after U.S. exhibitors with 222 complexes in Mexico and five Latin American countries. It took in $675 million last year and has consistently added about 200 screens per annum in recent years.

Cinepolis strategy exec Javier Sotomayor told Indian media, “We envision ourselves to be present in India for the long-term and for India to become our largest international expansion project.”

India sells more movie tickets than any nation worldwide, posting a mind-boggling 3.39 billion tickets in 2008. Cinepolis is expected to invest about $700,000 per screen and will focus only on complexes with 10 screens or more per complex as opposed to typical Indian complexes with only three or four screens.

Cinepolis will be bringing a number of luxury features to India, aimed at the nation’s emerging middle class, such as stadium seating, its upscale VIP theaters and gourmet café offerings.

The chain nevertheless is looking at lower price options.

“We are also experimenting with a low-cost cinema brand in Mexico, which might be introduced to India later,” added Cinepolis’ India prexy Milan Saini.

Sotomayor refused to comment on the ongoing distributor strike taking place in India or where they stand on the current 60-40 exhibitor-distributor split at the center of the conflict.