Are people ready to go back to theatres? While Juhi Chawla and Angad Bedi are unsure, Arjun Mathur won’t mind if a film needs a big screen experience
The fate of cinema halls in India still hangs in the balance, in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Shut for four months now, brick and mortar movie theatres do not seem to be on the ‘unlock’ priority list. In the wake of rising opposition from the theatre owners, however, the question remains whether the audiences are prepared to get back.
Actor Juhi Chawla, for one, isn’t sure that they are. “My friends refuse to go back to the theatres whenever they open. They say, ‘We won’t go back to theatres in such a rush, we don’t know who’s sat on the seat before’,” says Chawla, adding to her point by further emphasising on the positives of the OTT platforms.
“If your film releases in theatres, people from certain areas come and watch it. If it releases on the web, people will watch it in Africa, India, United States, so you have more viewership,” she says.
The sentiment is echoed by actor Angad Bedi. “People are mostly watching content on OTT, so do I. Theatres are yet to open and even when it opens in the near future, I’m not sure how many will take the risk of actually going. I will think twice,” confesses the 37-year-old.
Trade analyst Atul Mohan explains why schools and movie theatres will open the last. “Covid cases are increasing in Mumbai and Delhi, the two main centres from where the total box office revenue for a Hindi film comes. The situation is not under control. Who’ll visit theatres?” Mohan asks.
“People are in a financial crisis with job losses and salary cuts. No one is in the mental state to enjoy. How can they spend Rs 300- 400 on a movie ticket and take the risk?” he argues.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh concurs, “Whenever cinema halls reopen, they will screen old films again. The audience would want to bring their life back on track, pay their bills, earn their livelihood. Entertainment doesn’t even feature on the list.”
Actor Arjun Mathur says he may make an exception only for certain kind of films. “I might not go to a theatre unless I want to see some special effect extravaganza, such as a 3D film that I’d like to watch only on the big screen,” he says.
The management of movie theatres remain hopeful. Rajender Jyala, Chief Programming Officer, INOX Leisure, says, “We don’t expect big numbers immediately after reopening. But when releases such as Sooryavanshi and 83 come, it should be back to normal. We are sure by that time the fear of Corona will also go away, and a vaccine will also come. We are maybe a month away from opening.”
(With inputs from Shreya Mukherjee and Juhi Chakraborty)
Follow @htshowbiz for more