Coronavirus’ extended lockdown is taking its toll on revenues of many sectors of economy. Media and film industry is among worst affected industries due to shut down. Cinema halls were among first to close due to lockdown and post Covid, the industry looks at slow recovery due to importance of social distancing. A recent survey by PinkVilla concluded that 80% of moviegoers afraid to return to theaters due fears. Thus, recovery duration of cinema exhibition will be longest. Some estimates suggests annual revenue loss of 25% due to COVID-19.
Therefore top cinema exhibitors are formulating a plan post-Covid to gain trust among audience and promote idea of safe movie exhibitio.
Maintaining safety and social distancing measures, including, gap between two moviegoers seated at the hall, no cash transactions when it comes to buying tickets or food and beverages, mandatory wearing of masks for viewers, no back-to-back shows, among others are some of the measures planned by cinema owners.
While most Bollywood and Hollywood productions have already deferred their releases, cinemas say that they are in constant talks with the producers, who would wait for the cinemas to reopen, to announce the release dates. Directors and Producers have come out for support for cinema exhibitors by not choosing OTT platforms for release of their new films.
Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures said “Films like Sooryavanshi and 83 were rescheduled, then Salman Khan’s Eid release Radhe has been deferred. Among Hollywood films, Wonder Woman 1984 and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet have been pushed to later dates. All the producers and distributors are with us, and not a single film has gone straight to the OTT in the last one month or so, since the cinemas have been shut. None of the new regional films have also gone to any OTT platform. The producers have immense confidence in the distribution of films (in theatres), and they will wait for as long as it takes. Directors like Rohit Shetty or Kabir Khan, whose films are ready for release, have publicly come out in support of cinemas.”
Let’s see what top executives of other big cinema chains had to say:
Alok Tandon, CEO, INOX Leisure Ltd: – “Cross-allocation of seats is one measure which would ensure that social distancing is maintained inside the cinema halls. We will have to block the seats accordingly, so that the seats are available in this manner, whether one is booking at the box office or on an online platform. Another measure can be to time the shows in such a manner that intermissions of two shows do not occur simultaneously. “
Mohan Umrotkar, CEO, Carnival Cinemas: – “Depending on the situation, we might limit the maximum number of ticket buyers, per screen, during the initial period.”
Tinku Singh, Group President, SRS Cinemas: – “We will not have back-to-back shows and we will schedule our shows with gaps.”
Yogesh Raizada, corporate head, Wave Cinemas:- “After cinemas are allowed to open, we will take 1-2 weeks to thoroughly sanitize the screens, and even then, we will not open all auditoriums at one go, but we will operate phase-wise, one screen this week, another next week.”