In the age and time when the majority of Bollywood films are bombing at the box-office with very few like the recent release 'Brahmastra' doing phenomenally well, thanks to the VFX used, filmmakers are concerned about how to bring back the lost glory of theatres.
Keeping this in mind, a session to discuss the experience of watching a film on a big screen in theatres took place at FICCI Frames fast track event recently. The discussion revolved around the scenario post-pandemic and what needs to be done to invite audiences to the big screen experiences with the emergence of OTT platforms.
The panelists included prominent Distributors and people from the film exhibition sector like Pankaj Jaysinh, CEO (Film Distribution), UFO Moviez, Kunal Sawhney, COO, Movie Max, Rockline Venkatesh, Exhibitor and distributor and Lada Gurden Singh, General Manager & Head, Sony Pictures International while Akshaye Rathi, Director Aashirwad Theaters Pvt. Ltd. moderated the session.
Talking about whether OTT platforms are the reason why people don’t want to come to theatres, Pankaj Jaysinh said, “Contrary to this belief, It has helped ancillary industries. It is about good content and not about the language anymore.
UFO Moviez distributed the Hindi dubbed version of films like 777 Charlie and Karthikeya 2 that went on to become blockbusters.
“Because of people being exposed to films from all across the country and the globe, people are open to watching films in different languages even in theatres. South films doing well across is an example.” Kunal Sawhney added.
Talking about whether the ticket prices can be a hindrance, Pankaj Jaysinh pointed out, “I think, it is about one film being available at different price scales…Morning shows, afternoon shows and evening show at different prices. Audiences can then choose to watch the same film at their comfort price in theatres.”
"I feel that depending on the budget of a film or an experience that a film is giving, the right product has to be given at the right price. People are ready to pay if you pick up content which gives them a big screen experience, for example, KGF, Bahubali and RRR." Added Kunal Sawhney.
Everyone on the panel agreed that the content of the film is what drives audiences to the theatres, Rockline Venkatesh said, “After the pandemic, a drastic change has happened. People are watching content in various languages on OTT. Content has become the star. So now a film has to offer a lot more. This change is good”
"Going to the theatre is actually an appointment viewing and it's going to get more and more difficult. I personally the theatrical experience can't really be compensated for but the content has to be that strong.” Added Lada Gurden Singh.
While there have been conversations about the country being under-screened, Pankaj Jaysinh pointed out, “It is the tier three and tier four where the next growth will be coming from. We are coming up with smaller screen cinemas with the same kind of experience in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.”
“The government should back the entertainment industry with subsidies and lease when someone wants to come up with a new theatre in smaller cities.” concluded Rockline Venkatesh.