Madhya Pradesh: Has pandemic brought multiplexes' and cinema's future under menace?

The corona pandemic has enveloped almost every face of the society. It opened the doors for the over the top (OTT) media platforms to reach every hands. Surging the demands for the online platforms, multiplexes steeped down.

In a recent study, multiplexes in Indore recorded a loss of over Rs 3 crore every month i.e. at least Rs 6 crore post lockdown. Cinema halls and other entertainment arenas were also punched by the loss.

However, the question arises; will lockdown change our entertainment choices forever? Will we pick on relaxing with popcorns and web-series/web-movies or still prefer dressing up and paying for popcorns and movies to enjoy the ambience of multiplexes and cinema halls?

During the lockdown, there was a 265 percent increase in OTT traffic since February last week - despite of the drop from HD to SD, according to Internet Exchange operator DE-CIX and even other content aggregation services.

Madhya Pradesh: Has pandemic brought multiplexes' and cinema's future under menace?

Producers cannot earn enough revenue without theatre

The shutter of multiplexes has been under lock since lockdown. As a consequence, for the first time, some production houses skipped the theatrical window run for a few Indian movies and released them directly to OTT platforms.

Following such decisions, the question whether movies will continue to release on OTT after the lockdown lurks. As aimed by some satellite television, this is an essential way to capture the entertainment market.

Explaining how this is less likely, Sandeep Jain, owner of EOS cinema said, “Producers earn maximum revenue from theatrical releases, which makes about 70 percent of the total revenue.” He explained that releasing on OTT cannot fetch them the expected revenue.

As per latest data, bollywood alone made over Rs 4,200 crore through theatrical release in 2019, which was a standout year. In contrast, the digital or OTT rights fetched Indian movie makers barely Rs 1,900 crore.

Audience's take: Theatre is an escape from home & life

The latest report analysing audience of multiplexes in India titled ‘At a theatre near you’ says 53% of the people visiting movie theatres today are women. Further, as per findings, youngsters between the ages of 15-24 years make up the majority of film-going audience in India.

Hence, we asked youngsters and women about their choice between web series/movies and theatrical premieres.

“We can sit at home and watch movies, but we cannot sit at home and watch movies with our big gang of friends and get dressed up for the same,” said Ankita Asrani, a college student.

Madhya Pradesh: Has pandemic brought multiplexes' and cinema's future under menace?

“Watching a movie like Avengers in a small screen at home does not do justice to the movie, so at least for great movies, we need movie theatres,” Krishna Kate, a teenager, said.

“We go out to watch movies for our day-out especially when the weather is not particularly pleasant,” Gurucharan Gollo representing Punjabi women’s Biba group said. She added that watching movies often helps them escape from home and their regular lives.

“When you are watching a romantic movie away from home, you are living the life of the heroine in the movie for those two hours, you cannot do that at home, when your family members are asking for mid-movie snacks,” homemaker Rakhi Jaisinghani said.

Piracy rate spikes in lockdown

Online film piracy rose to 62 percent in India in the last week of March compared with the last week of February, according to digital piracy authority MUSO.

Film piracy increased 41 percent in the US, 43 percent in the UK, 50 percent in Spain and 66 percent in Italy.

Opening of multiplex under question

Multiplex Association of India, under the aegis of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, released a new set of mandates that cinema halls across the country will have to follow.

The norms include following social distancing rules and having minimal human contact. Cine-goers will also have to ensure that they are doing everything in their capacity to maintain strict hygiene levels.

Staff will have to take care to disinfect all areas of the theatre, including the box office counter, security area, lobby, the auditorium and restrooms.

Further, people will have to undergo infrared scanners to ensure they don't have fever. The audience will also have to wear masks at all times.

Digital transactions will be encouraged at the ticket counter. Cine-goers will be required to stand in demarcated circles at all times within the premises.

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