When screens fail

It’s a tricky question, whether films are businesses, or an art form?  The answer has been obviously yes to both. Every film made, springs from the dream of a filmmaker and settles in the dreams of those who watch them. Films are an outcome of the industrious work of huge teams synced to deliver amusement for its consumer. “Talent” has a different shade in the film industry. Not recruited often with standard procedures; the open arena of the film industry is demanding of talent, even if one has proved it in many ways. Though there are federations, unions and institutions for the welfare of the insiders, the way the industry runs is mostly on uncertain financial benefits for each of its stakeholders. The game doesn’t have rules, and that’s the rule.

With the pandemic outbreak, like a thriller on the streets, the cinemas have locked down world over with the echoes of a roaring crowd that swarmed for entertainment. Conveniently, technology has landed OTTs to the hands of the movie buffs; while most of us binge watch movies, movie exhibitors are binge watching what may happen to the cinemas in the future.

Like every other business, cinemas too have their running expenses, crew payouts, property maintenance, bills, and taxes to pay. Such a situation would not have emanated even in the nightmare of a psychopath’s victim in any of the hardcore psycho movies.

Financially, movies thrived midst the burden of debts, and reached the box offices in the past, not for the ROI alone; it was for the mass reception. On the other hand, over the years the audiences were enticed with enriching experiences of those ages that they got every time they walked in to a screen. Cinemas have always been in a situation to upgrade to the right technology that well exhibited those adopted by the movie(s). Hence, the buffer for investment towards refurbishing costs would have been a consistent concern. Today, as cinemas are badly hit due to the indefinite lockdown, cinemas even if they open up, are sure to face heavy maintenance issues with regard to ambience, social distancing, hygiene and other government stipulated SOPs.

All right, let’s divert to revisit some of the experiences that cinemas gave us since the yester-years to the lockdown times.

Watching Movies in Cinemas

  • It was a family or friends get-together opportunity.
  • Visiting the cinemas was an outing by itself.
  • Seat reservations made us walk tall to our exclusive thrones.
  • The huge screens captured our senses and gave us an immersive experience.
  • Additionally, the 3D screens made us scream in groups, which gave an enthralling experience.

Watching movies at home or on a device

Though it might seem “convenient” and “cost-effective”, what we pay at cinemas is not for that, (I am not advocating for any cinemas). Here are some aspects to consider that we actually miss watching movies at home or on a device.

  • Holding the device for long hours watching a movie is not a convenience
  • Though data is the only spend, your phone keeps throwing notifications, which is not the case while watching movies at the cinemas
  • If it is to a television that you are binged, there is always someone around fighting for the remote control.
  • If it is a laptop you use, still you have chances of notifications popping from your office email that’s left logged-in.

The list of merits and demerits may grow longer, and it is left to the readers’ thought. Overall, the time we spent was for the experience, and not for anything less.

Let’s cut to the main story.

As cinemas get ready to face the post-Covid lockdown, many who yearned to work from home may now be looking to stretch wings on the streets. Future of movies may embrace more engaging technologies to pull the audiences to the cinemas, and cinemas would also adopt them to revive business.

However, experts opine that cinemas with single screens are to suffer a lot as compared to those with multiple or more than one screen, given that both are to suffer. A decade ago, cinemas in Chennai faced similar dearth (not a pandemic), and many of them where converted into marriage halls. This time, businesses dependent on huge gatherings are with restrictions, which is a pain point that only time would address. To the delight of the cinemas, drive-in cinemas that have been accommodating audiences with social distancing since the ages may become the people’s choice henceforth, which is one ray of hope though not ultimate.

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