Will Cinema Come Back To Us After The Pandemic?

Cinema is beyond movies, it is about marking a memory, about holding hands, eating out, socializing, birthdays and anniversaries.

Going to the cinemas and watching movies was more of a family bonding session than an entertainment form. There have been times when the movies didn’t turn out to be very well but the family was overjoyed by this outing. The four/five people of the family sat together and enjoyed a movie. Looking at the current scenario, the cinema halls in India and all over the world are closed and are on the verge of a huge fall. Owners of the cinema halls have paid their employees for the month of march but for the coming months, it seems kind of impossible.

Mr. Rakesh of Vetri Theaters, a popular two-screen complex in Chennai has two screens in his cinema hall. He says that he had to pay about 4-5 lakhs to his employees with zero income and revenue stream. He claims that he needs to be loyal to his old employees and he had to pay them.

Another two-screen complex is held by Mr. Ruben of GK Cinemas says that he has paid his employees for the month of march but the coming months will be very difficult as the employees’ bread and butter are solely dependent on their bosses.

The film industry lost box office revenue of about $130m from March to the starting of May as theatres are shut down due to lockdown. Making movies has always been a very big luck game for the movie producers because what one feels as entertaining might not be for the other one. The cinema hall owners and producers of movies said that they would have to beg people to come and visit the theatres. The cinema hall segment makes up for about 60% revenue in the box office which terms films and numbers them accordingly. Big projects where the shootings are done in international locations is a huge no during this time and after this too. Actors would stay indoors and indulge in shoots near their home towns. This industry will suffer and have a tough time. even when the lockdown is lifted, people will have this mindset of avoiding all possible gatherings let alone go to the cinema halls.

Almost 10,000 businesses with regards to this sector are shut including theatres, single-screen halls, and much more. The fear of getting infected lingers in the minds of people.

“Theatres may not open before mid-June on a pan-India level and normal occupancy may not come back until August,” Karan Taurani said.

People who own cinema halls said that they would have to slash the prices of the tickets to attract customers so that the halls are full and the expenses can match up to the revenues. Bollywood actors said that this might be the biggest downfall for the industry in so many years because the hub of the cinema has gone downhill, Mumbai.

Various media reports state that the operators of multiplex halls were aiming to add about 7000 screens in the near future but this future seems impossible right now. Any sort of investment for expansion in a dead segment will lead to further damaging the pocket of the investor.

When the lockdown ends, the show timings will have to be changed. After every show, proper sanitation has to be ensured so that the next batch of people coming in don’t have any issues. Due to this the number of shows aired every day will reduce. The seating capacity will also change. People will visit cinema halls only when there is no more threat of the virus and they can enjoy with a clear mind. The revenue generation stream of the cinema halls comes from the food and beverage segment. This is why the popcorns are priced at sky high rates! People have been suggesting that the cinema halls must operate with 50% occupancy. But this is not really possible because then the revenues won’t be generated much and it will lead to losses only. But trials can be started with 50% capacity just to see what is the result when all this is over. And this is not a remedy, this is the desperate call for help. At the same time some people feel that some revenue is better than zero revenue. At least the owners can pay the bills of fixed expenses through 50% occupancy. And moreover, cinema halls are closed spaces so they can be sanitized after every show in the best way possible.

About 200 screens were running before the lockdown in West Bengal and it is said that 60-70 of those wot even function again because of the losses they have undergone during this time.

Various figures show that India makes more than 1100 films per year and earns a huge amount of money from that because people love cinema! The thing is that the big-budget movies have moved to the next year altogether as production houses don’t have enough money to run the businesses during times like now. The actors are also not willing to shoot right now as security and safety issues are there.  Like the major film, Sooryanvanshi, by Rohit Shetty has been postponed for next year.

“It is likely that even after theatres reopen, only smaller films will be released, so that producers get a sense of how many people are coming to them,” Shailesh Kapoor, head of agency Ormax, which tracks Bollywood films said in an interview.

Cinemas could reopen as early as July, according to the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), but it depends on each country’s measures to ease lockdown restrictions. India is a country where people did not really believe in sanitation and hygiene. We wonder whether this statement is for India or not. And even when the cinemas reopen, the whole scenario will be changed and it will be a very different experience for the people.

We hope that the love of Bollywood by India will revamp this sector as soon as possible and if not, alternate methods of web streaming are formed which is on a paid basis so that the producers can earn money and fill up their pockets as well as their staff’s stomach.

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