Schools, religious institutions and cinema halls across Maharashtra have been told they can resume services in October. The news is especially a relief to cinema hall owners who had to pull the shutter again in March 2021 after months of collecting losses in 2020. Guidelines haven't been released yet but it is expected that the halls will be open only with a 50% capacity limit.
Stock prices of cinema theatre companies dropped after a national lockdown was announced due to the coronavirus pandemic. On 20 February 2020, PVR's stock price was at Rs2,033. In three months, its price fell to Rs837. Since then, the stock price has been steadily rising, and the reopening of cinema halls in the heart of Bollywood will surely bring some glimmer of hope in the revival of the cinema theatre industry.
A new roadblock
But, all is not well. In the past year, movie producers started acknowledging the advantages of the OTT platform. Ever since Netflix infiltrated the Indian market, OTT platforms' prominence has been increasing. Now, there is an abundance of OTT platforms in India- with the likes of Prime Video, Voot, Hotstar. There was always a fear that these online platforms would take business away from cinema hall owners. And why won't they? Consumers no longer need to wait in line or hurry to book tickets to watch a movie in a congested room with 100 or so people. Not to mention the occasional jeers, comments over the duration of the movie, and let's not forget the ones who decide to have a full-blown meal during the movie.
It's not all grey
All hope is not lost for the cinema theatre owners though. Experts still believe that people will keep coming to cinema theatres to get the full experience of a movie. Availability of features like IMAX does give cinema halls an edge over online platforms. There is also an argument that movie producers won't profit off their OOT-released movies if the movie becomes a mega-hit. This is because movies are bought by OTT platforms for an initial price and the platform reaps the profit or loss that the movie brings. On the other hand, if the movie does well at the box office, the returns can go through the roof. But if no viewers turn up, producers could end up earning barely anything from the movie.
Another thing that can potentially be a huge incentive for attracting customers to the big screen is big-budget flicks. If cinema halls release a successive number of big-budget flicks that give brilliant cinematic experience on IMAX, people, sooner or later, will be compelled to come to theatres to watch. Long-awaited movies like Venom 2 and James Bond: No Time to Die chose to release on the big screen and they have racked up eight to nine-digit figures within the first week of release. If similar big-budget flicks continue to release on Indian cinema theatres, we could potentially witness a rebirth of the cinema theatre industry.