Battle of the screens

The emergence and penetration of Internet & Telecommunications technology has made a big difference in the way content has been consumed in the past. Video content is no longer restricted to just TV or Cinemas. Video on Demand (VOD) services and an evolving broadband infrastructure have allowed consumers to view what they want, when they want on devices of their choice. This new kind of entertainment is at present the most convenient source and in huge demand. The liberty one gets with these services is something that cinemas wouldn't be able to provide its audience. There will only be certain shows playing every day whereas with VOD services will always fulfill your demands. Although a few cinemas have come up with concepts where you can select the content of your choice and book the show, but it may take a while to take off and is a far stretch from the whenever-wherever mode.

Online streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon has paved the way and has successfully produced and distributed original content. Further to this earlier the release windows had shortened: that being the time period from cinema release to becoming available on VOD. This had resulted in the loss of the competitive advantage that traditional cinemas enjoyed in the past, but with the Indian film industry coming up with a definitive solution to this there honestly seems to be nothing to worry about for the Multiplex Industry.

That being said I believe all content has medium different formats on which they work. A film made for the big screen will be very different from the one made for VOD. There have been multiple production houses which have argued that films are made for big screen and are best enjoyed on them only. While VOD may have higher views, producers definitely have more to gain from cinemas as a medium in terms of revenue. In the recent past only Qarib Qarib Singlle and Tumhari Sulu were made with a different ratio aspect on screen, it was small screen friendly, the technical reason behind doing will be best known to the filmmaker. There will always be massive films like a Baahubali or a Padmaavat that is best enjoyed in the theaters. Hollywood has made its mark in India because of the kind of storytelling their films have which appeal to India mentality. Moreover, these films are dubbed in various Indian languages and released simultaneously with its English version. A superhero fan will never wait for the film to come on a VOD service, in fact that one fan might go and watch the same film in different versions like IMAX, 4DX etc. Studios like Marvel and DC announce the release date of their films well in advance assuring that the fans will make their weekend plans in advance. Cinema owners look forward to such weekends where there is a certain assurance about a good occupancy and healthy collections at the box office. Even today a Baaghi 2 is looked forward to because the confidence of these big ticket films doing wonders at the box office is still there. Cinemas probably are not going to die out because of this reason. In my opinion for films, VOD services act more as catching up on the missed films.

Mulitplexes today have made movie going an outing, an experience completely different from that of sitting in your drawing room or while commuting. Today most cinemas offer a variety of Food and Beverage to complete the outing experience. The kind of food served in theatres might make one skip their dinner or lunch plan. They have been catering to all kinds of audience through segmentation like cine diners where you can watch the film while having your meal luxuriously. Special kid's friendly screens dedicated to kids with a play house where the kid can go and play if he does not enjoy the film. They have reached Tier 3 & 4 markets in India with the concept of miniplexes and touring talkies. This boasts the quantity of content in the regional cinema. Movie watching experience has become convenient with more than two multiplexes available in every 10 to 15 kilometers of a residential areas. We are in an age of cinema where if one wants to make a Bengali, Marathi or Malayalam film there will be producers ready to back that content because they know the reach of cinemas is increasing with every passing day. These filmmakers know that are Miniplxes in the interior parts of the nation which will screen their film. Cinemas has the power to sustain every kind of obstacles, it has survived numerous and various kinds of strikes, and it survived the IPL wave. Cinemas have been known to bring people together and will continue to do so. The format is here to stay despite all kinds of new formats and content in the world.

Rahul Puri
MD, Mukta Arts Ltd

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