Representational Image  |  Photo Credit: IANS
- Maharashtra, largest collection centre, opens up theatres after second wave of Covid 19
- Opinion is divided on whether people will return to movie halls in as large numbers as before Covid 19
- Big Bollywood movies lined up will be key to bring back cinema goers to movie halls
Mumbai: Movie halls have finally opened in the biggest market, Maharashtra and industry experts are confident of people addicted to binge-watching content on OTT platforms, returning to the movie halls. Big Bollywood movies like Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi and Ranveer Singh starrer ’83 are expected to wean movie goers gorging on relatively cheaper content on streaming sites back to the halls.
Post pandemic, several movies have been released directly on streaming sites or OTT platforms but not many of them have done well. As cinema halls opened up across the country, regional films in Punjabi and Tamil have been seeing full houses report movie theatre owners. They expect an even better response when the big blockbusters roll out.
“I have absolutely no doubt that the audience will come in large numbers and probably we’ll see box office collections we have never seen before in Bollywood”, says Komal Nahata, Film Trade Analyst. Will people used to seeing several hours of content for relatively lower costs in the comfort of their home venture out to movie halls to pay for overpriced food? “People are fed up, tired, sick of sitting at home & watching content for “free”. Another change in habit that is being reported is more people coming into movie halls on weekdays. Cinematic experience cannot be replicated at home and for that people are willing to pay money”, he says.
Maharashtra, that accounts for close to 20% of revenue for movie theatre chains like PVR and Inox still imposes some restrictions on cinema-goers. Movie halls can be filled with only 50% capacity. Masks have to be kept on for the duration of the movie and food and beverages can only be served outside. Despite this, people are keen to splurge on that tub of popcorn claims PVR CEO Kamal Gianchandani. “Most people thought that these restrictions would hamper our sales dramatically. Surprisingly, Ever since we opened up after the 2nd lockdown our concession sale has gone up by 34% as compared to pre-covid”.
The way people watch movies is also changing with it no longer being restricted to a weekend activity.
“Thanks to ‘Work From Home’, we are seeing people are now watching movies on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday”, says Kunal Sawhney, COO, Carnival Cinema.
Predicting the behaviour of audiences will be tricky, especially with tastes changing. Indian audiences have been experiencing high-quality content on streaming sites. On the other hand, attention spans have also gone down. Producer and Director Sanjay Gupta is circumspect about the return to normalcy. I don’t see it happening very soon. We are used to certain numbers pre-pandemic for an Akshay Kumar or Salman Khan film. Those numbers are not coming at 50% occupancy and limited shows”, he says.
Watch Tamanna Inamdar discuss the return to movie halls with top industry players: