Post Covid, how about a movie in theater?

Everybody has something that chews them up and, for me, that thing was always loneliness. The cinema has the power to make you not feel lonely, even when you are.

Tom Hanks

Cinema has been one of the ultimate storytelling mediums in taking us into a world unknown, unseen, untold and yet make us feel a part of it. Like most of average Bongs, I have my share of cherishable memories of going to a movie theater and experiencing a story in big screen, sharing the laughs, tears and adrenaline rush with two hundred other movie-goers in the same movie theater.

But Covid-19 or popularly known as, Corona virus has changed our lives in more ways than one. And where social distancing is the only way to prevent this pandemic, our movie going experience will be changed, if not forever, but for the foreseeable future.

Let’s watch a movie in theater?

Well, can we do this in future? Of-course, yes.
But how about:

  • we have to undergo thermal scanning while entering the theater
  • there are mandatory gaps between seats from different bookings, so a 120 seater theater may allow only 50% seats for booking (adhering to social distancing norms)
  • the supremely pricey food in multiplexes will not be served to your seat any more but there will be self-service kiosks only for us

Yes – things will change for sure but till the time, it happens, what do we do?

OTT platforms doing premiers!

Yes – the writing was there on the wall. OTT platforms having ruling the roost, since lockdown started in many countries across the world. From Netflix and Amazon Prime videos to homegrown Hotstar, Zee-5, people have been binge watching series and old movies.
But there was an opportunity amongst all of these – what about the new movies waiting for a release?

Someone had to make the first step and Amazon Prime went blazing all guns by securing world premiers for new movies, waiting for theatrical release like Gulabo-Sitabo, Shakuntala Devi and others. Such movies have been waiting for release since Feb-2020 and lockdown forced the production houses to take the less beaten path till now.

Someone got hurt though!

Amidst all these, a traditional large multiplex player – Inox Leisures got rubbed the wrong way and they smelt a no-so-fair-pay in this. So they filed a formal statement highlighting that production houses should wait for formal theatrical releases, before opening up the movies to OTT platforms. All this for the sake of “age old and established windowing patterns” and “all weather friends“.

Now I am not someone who feeds on someones’ blood and ofcourse movie theaters and associated ancillary business did have a beating due to this lockdown.
But but but….

Missed opportunity for theater owners?

The writing was there on the wall, clear and straight back in Feb-2020 that Corona virus will impact this industry as well. So instead of feeling wronged now, INOX and others (PVR, are you reading?) should have invested in building a new streaming platform or bought any of the existing platforms and introduced a pay per movie model or group movie discounts. They would have retained their exclusive rights as well as probably recovered some costs in this lockdown.
But someone was caught napping and the train left the station. Only this time, Amazon Prime became of the engine of this new train and I am sure, this model will be a HIT amongst the largely urban mass!

Does it change movie experience forever?

No – I don’t believe so. There are movies which need to be experienced in large screen, over a bucket of (pricey) cheese caramel popcorns. And when the lockdown will end, movie lovers will surely throng back to the theaters, albeit with adequate precaution and social distancing measures.
An OTT platform can never give us that big screen cinematic experience and for that reason alone, we will go back to the 70 mm screens.

But I do expect that some other player is going to bring about a pay per movie streaming model or as my fellow blogger Tayanesh commented that production houses might just tie up with streaming platforms for a subscription based model for movies.

But this entire situation (fiasco!) by INOX made me remember a long and most heard yet most ignored line in any organisation…

Change is the only constant thing in this universe

Till the time, things settle and we adapt to the new normal, long live OTT platforms! 😀
And surely we will be back like this…

Image from The New York Times

Sources: Copyrights lie with respective owners/websites
1. Feature image about first 3D movie taken from https://www.tested.com/art/makers/456521-making-and-editing-first-3d-color-film/
2. The cinema audience image at the end taken from NY Times article (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/28/movies/avengers-endgame-box-office.html)

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