Rex Cinemas opens second theatre at Golden Mile Tower
Rex Cinemas opens second theatre at Golden Mile Tower, which includes VIP seats for Tamil, Hindi, Malay movies
Indian movie lovers now have a new place to catch their favourite films as Rex Cinemas opens its second movie theatre at Golden Mile Tower.
Launched on Sunday, the new cinema will screen mostly Tamil, Hindi and Malay movies - like Rex's first outlet at Mackenzie Road.
The Mackenzie cinema has been a hit since it reopened in 2009, so there was almost no hesitation in opening another one six years later.
Rex Cinemas' CEO Senthil Kumaran said: "We almost had no choice. Film production in India has been booming in the last few years and there were not enough screens to match the moviegoers' demands."
In 2007, the Indian film industry produced 1,132 feature films. In 2012, 1,602 films were produced.
"We had to make way for this blockbuster peak," said Mr Kumar, 32.
Kollywood star Trisha Krisnan said she notices the increasing appetite for Indian movies, especially when she is travelling.
"I see more fans coming out to see me when I travel for work overseas, be it the US or Malaysia. And these fans even show more enthusiasm and appreciation than fans back in India," added the 32-year-old who was in Singapore for the launch.
"There has been a definite increase in demand for Indian movies. They just love going to the cinema."
When Rex Cinemas reopened,, it had a monthly average of 150,000 patrons.
Mr Kumar said he now sees more than 500,000 patrons every month and profit has also increased by 30 per cent since 2009, though he declined to say what these figures were in dollar terms. The Mackenzie cinema is too small to serve the growing audience - it has a 570-seat main hall and two smaller 80-seat halls.
Mr Kumar said he spent $1.5 million on the new cinema which boasts a 980-seat hall and 20 VIP seats - similar to Gold Class seats offered at other cinemas.
The VIP seats are leather recliners covered in gold fabric and tickets for these cost $80 a pair. Patrons can also order food from a menu and have it delivered to them.
Mr Kumar said: "We want the movie experience to be as comfortable as possible given that movies often run for about three hours."
The new cinema can also screen 3-D movies and has a "much better Dolby surround sound system", said Mr Kumar.
"Indian films are getting more technically advanced, and it's expected that 3-D films will be produced, so I want our cinemas to be prepared."
Regulars are excited about the new Rex cinema.
Madam Selvi Thanabalan, a 42-year-old housewife who often goes to the Mackenzie cinema, said: "The Mackenzie cinema often looks rundown, the seats and interior look very old and kitschy. But it's the only cinema that screens such movies throughout the year, I don't have many other choices."
Madam Revathi Kamaraj, 46, a research assistant at the National University of Singapore, watches Tamil movies at Rex at least once a month.
She said: "It reminds me of watching a movie in India, where I'm from. There is a lot of cheering and it's a great experience. Since the new theatre has a bigger hall, I expect the experience to be even better." While Rex has some competition from players like Golden Village, which also screens Indian movies, Mr Kumar said he feels there's enough demand to keep the two cinemas going.
GAP IN MARKET
He said: "Opening a new cinema is a risk. Every business has a risk factor. But I believe that we are simply plugging a gap in the market.
"Golden Village screens the big movies but sometimes misses out on the smaller titles."
Golden Village's programming director, Ms Sharanjit Kaur, welcomed the addition to the scene.
"Niche cinemas like Rex provide their core audience with a continuous supply of Tamil films. In spite of its existence, we are confident that we will continue to thrive along with the competition," she said.
"Niche cinemas add variety and bring vibrancy to the entertainment landscape. It's always good for consumers to be exposed to different offerings."
The cinema chain has increased the number of Indian films it screens over the years, said Ms Kaur.
Mr Kumar said he will be working on getting more exclusive titles to ensure Rex Cinemas remain competitive.
One of these movies, out this Deepavali, is the widely-anticipated Vedalam, starring popular Indian actor Ajith Kumar and actress Shruti Haasan. It will screen exclusively at both Rex cinemas.
Mr Kumar said: "There is only room to grow. And we at Rex are excited about the growth of the industry here."
No make-up in her 50th movie
As she sashayed down the stairs of the new Rex cinema at Golden Mile Tower, Kollywood actress Trisha Krishnan looked every bit the star.
But in her new movie, Thoonga Vaanam, she will go without make-up to make her character, a cop, appear more authentic.
"This is the first Tamil movie where I'm not wearing make-up at all, but it was good because the role gave me a break from the monotony of my usual heroine roles," Trisha told The New Paper on Sunday night at the launch of Rex Cinemas' second movie theatre.
The 32-year-old is one of the more popular South Indian actresses and is well-known for her Tamil films.
Thoonga Vanam will be her 50th film in a 15-year career.
Trisha said she is most excited about a thrilling fight scene between her character and the hero, renowned actor Kamal Hassan.
"A female heroine actively involved in a fight scene is rare in a Tamil movie, so this was very empowering for me," she said.
"Training and rehearsing for the role were also very fun."
The movie premieres today exclusively at Rex Cinemas.
Trisha said she will be busy promoting the movie during Deepavali, but hopes that she can still have some time to "hang out with friends and family".
Only in Singapore for one night, she lamented that she didn't have the chance to see the traditional light-up at Little India.
"It's been 20 years since I was last here, everything has changed. It's a pity I can't stay longer," she said.
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