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No Use Though The Theatres Are Reopened

No Use Though The Theatres Are Reopened

It has been five months since movie theatres have been closed.  It is a rude shock to the movie exhibition industry. The stakeholders involved in the movie exhibition are in confusion regarding the future of their business.

There are reports in the media that the government is mulling over giving permission to reopen the theatres from the month of September. Well, the majority of the exhibitors are not so keen to reopen the theatres as per the inside talk.

There are many challenges ahead of them if they reopen the theatres.

1. Occupancy will be reduced if they follow social distancing measures inside the auditoriums. That will result in a decreased collection.

2. Once they reopen the theatres, they have to spend money on maintenance irrespective of their income.  In the present situation, the expenditure has been increased and it is going to be a burden for them. 

3. There is not enough content to feed the theatres.  The majority of the small films have already gone for direct OTT release, there are very few big films available for release.   Unless theatres have non-stop releases at regular intervals, they can not bear the maintenance.

Even though there are a bunch of films, they are not enough for feeding the theatres. Because the lifespan of a movie is not more than a week. They can not run a single movie for 50 days, 100 days.

4. No one is able to predict the audience's behavior post-COVID-19 situation.  This is one of the areas of concern for the movie exhibitors.  What if the majority of the audience chose to stay away from theatres?  It is a million-dollar question.

When the theatres are reopened in the USA recently, they have re-released the one-two year old films to feed the theatres. The response was disastrous as the majority of the audience didn't visit theatres.  It is a clear indication that old films/dubbed films/ b-grade films are not going to be a choice to visit the theatres in the COVID-19 situation.  No one would want to take the risk for the old/substandard content.

Star producers and leading exhibitors in Telugu states are not ready for the re-opening, if we go by their recent statements.  D. Suresh Babu has already commented that 'This is the end of the theatre system'.

The recent reports suggest that Dil Raju has sold the rights of his latest film 'V' giving a shock to all the exhibitors/distributors.  There is a talk that Anushka's Nishabdam OTT deal also closed. The remaining medium range films are 'RED' and 'KRACK'.  But at this juncture distributors don't come forward to buy these films. The makers may have to attempt for their own release considering the 30% occupancy in theatres as housefull, which is anyway difficult. 

The fear complex among the public will be the biggest hindrance for any business. Right now the domestic aviation industry is also dull. People are not travelling like before. The business meetings and conferences were also restricted to Zoom App. The malls are suffering heavy blows with no customers. Yesterday, a popular shoe mart owner said that the first sale of a pair of shoes happened at 5 PM though they opened at 10 AM. 

"Today at 5PM we sold the first pair of shoes. Yesterday there was no customer at all. On a whole we are selling four to five pairs of shoes/chappals a week. Our average regular traction in pre Covid era was selling 20 pairs every day", the shoemart owner said. 

Looking at this scenario, the future of movie business in theatres can be understood. 

On the other hand, the theatres need to feed every week with new films. Where is the content now? We can't ignore the facts.

Going by the present situation, the trade analysts are saying that normalcy will not be restored in theatres till the mid of 2021, considering that the people will get rid of fear by then. Until then we don't know how many theatres will sustain and how many will shut down permanently.

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Tags: coronavirus Theatres