The Gold Rush

The occupancy at the club class theatre at R Deccan

But the difference is that the privilege class, is no longer limited to the "affluent". Multiplexes that do not want to take the risk of creating a separate section are experimenting with smartening up a handful of top rows. "Lounges make sense only in swish neighbourhoods. For other areas, demarcating a few seats as premium seats makes better business sense," says Archana Jhangiani, head of brand & marketing, BIG Cinemas.

Sunil Punjabi, CEO of Cinemax seconds that, but feels that the trend is percolating to those keen on climbing the social ladder. "It's a habit-building exercise for us and hence multiplexes across have managed to sustain the sales and even expand," he Punjabi. Spice cinemas in Delhi for instance slashed their Gold Class rates by 50 per cent.

This probably explains why multiplexes in second-tier cities and towns, like Raigad and Malegaon, now have privilege seats. While BIG is looking at Ludhiana, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad over Bangalore; Cinemax's next choice after Mumbai is Pune for the Red Lounge. Cinepolis, the Mexican multiplex chain slated to open 150 screens in India by 2012, plans to introduce VIP sections in most cities. Delhi with it's love for the good life, however, remains the favourite destination for exhibitors.

Apart from physical expansion, these multiplexes are also looking at concept reinvention. From the use of noiseless cutlery at BIG to the pool table in Spice's Gold Class and plans to have a dedicated play area for kids by one of the popular chains, the multiplexes intend to lure many with the sheen of Gold.

( With inputs from Pallavi Pundir in Delhi and Rohan Swamy in Pune )

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