The IMAX experience is coming to Bangalore

Tej Sapru, student, Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM)

BANGALORE (Oct. 18)—PVR Cinemas is set to bring the IMAX movie experience to Bangalore.

PVR sources who spoke to The Softcopy were reluctant to go into detail about the project, but did say it would be off the ground “by next year.”

A local theater owner said the plan was an open secret.

“We have known that they are going to do it in Yeshwanthpur, in the Brigade Gateway property, for the past six months,” said Amit Gowda, owner of Urvashi Theater and an industry insider.

Project requires big investment

Though PVR was not willing to discuss the financial aspects of the project, a look at the `6.2 million construction price of the Prasads IMAX in Hyderabad provides a fair understanding of the monetary risk.

IMAX is a brand as much as an experience, and even using the name comes with a hefty price tag.

“When we looked into IMAX they asked us for $1.2 million—just to use the brand,” Gowda said.

PVR will have to bank on the power of that brand to put bums on seats as there are a limited number of films shot in the IMAX format.

“Only 16 Hollywood films are going to be made for IMAX this year…there are no local movies made in the IMAX format,” the head of PVR’s projects wing said.

All of this might push the price of a ticket up considerably.

"I’m sure that if they open an IMAX in Bangalore it will not be less than Rs.600-700 a ticket,” Gowda said.

To make the IMAX project profitable, PVR is thinking outside the box—it’s looking into the possibility of resizing superhit movies, such as Sholay, into the appropriate format.

Screen could be up to 8 stories high

Theater screens for IMAX have to be extremely large to handle the larger film format of such movies—10 times larger than the ordinary 35mm film format.

The standard IMAX screen size measures 22 meters by 16.1 meters, but they can be much larger—the LG IMAX Theater in Sydney is the largest in the world and has a screen measuring 35.73 meters by 29.42 meters that covers an area of more than 1,015 square meters.

Though it will cost PVR an arm and a leg to build a venue big enough to screen IMAX films, the response from viewers in other cities has been promising.

The Prasads IMAX in Hyderabad has an average 4½-star rating on Google reviews, with one reviewer, Bhargava Krishna, calling it the “one of the best Indian cinematic experiences.”