Carnival Group plans to invest $65M to expand multiplex chain

Multiplex chain Carnival Cinemas, which is a part of Carnival Group, is planning to invest around Rs 400 crore ($65 million) to reach a milestone of opening 300 screens by 2018 across the country, the Business Standard reported.

"We have signed 50 screens in 11 districts of Kerala. By the end of 2014, Carnival Cinemas will become the largest holder of screens in Kerala,” the paper quoted the Carnival group chairman Shrikant Bhasi as saying.

Bhasi also added that the company is looking to augment its presence in the southern cities since there is an increase in the number of film releases in Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil.

The firm has three screens at Angamaly in Kerala and five screens in Dindigul, near Madurai and is aiming to hit the 87 screen mark in southern cities by the end of this year.

It has also signed 20 screens in Tamil Nadu, which are slated to be operational in six months. These aside, it has plans to open 17 screens in Karnataka and 50 screens in Madhya Pradesh in six months, the paper said.

It has also lined up around 40 screens in Andhra Pradesh in its blueprint for the next five years.

The privately held Carnival Group is into the media and entertainment business with segments like movie production (of southern language flicks; it recently produced a Bollywood movie), international concerts, reality shows and wedding planning in India and overseas.

Currently it is a bit player in the multiplex industry which is dominated by three large firms PVR, Inox (which acquired Fame a few years ago) and Big Cinemas. There are also a few mid-size players such as Fun Cinemas, Wave Cinemas and DLF’s DT Cinemas. Mexico’s Cinepolis has also been looking at expansion in India, but at present is a small player. Reliance MediaWorks’ Big Cinemas, is also expanding its operations.

In the most recent consolidation exercise in the industry, Ajay Bijli-controlled PVR acquired Cinemax and surpassed Inox to become the largest player in the country. It is backed by private equity firms Multiples Alternate Asset Management and L Capital.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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