The Coronavirus pandemic has taken a huge toll on the entertainment industry. The film shootings which were put on hold, have now resumed with safety guidelines. However, the theatres are still shut and the future of cinema seems to be in jeopardy.
Vinod Bhanushali, President of Marketing, Media & Publishing (TV), Music Acquisition of T-Series and Co- Producer of T Series Films, in conversation with PeepingMoon.com, spoke about what is in store for cinema and will the filmmakers be successful to get the public back to theatres after the pandemic recedes.
Excerpts from the interview:
With the on-going pandemic situation, what do you think will be the future of cinema?
These are very tough times for cinemas. Due to the COVID-19 situation there are rules and regulations which one has to follow for the safety of all. Theatres are in a bad shape because all said and done, they have zero income with obvious expenses, so at the end it amounts to huge losses for them. In my opinion one thing is very clear, come what may, theatres make superstars. Actors become stars when films are released in the theatre, on a big screen. They are appreciated for their work and plus a superhit at the box office helps make them a superstar. So it is of utmost importance that theatres come back, obviously with all the norms and precautions.
When will theatres open and will the footfalls get affected by the strong dominance of OTT platforms?
We hope that by October there may be an announcement soon with regards to the reopening of theatres. Big scale movies will try to target November (Diwali) & December (Christmas) for their releases. People want to enjoy the theatre, and if all precautions are taken, I think they will definitely go and watch films on the big screen.
So I feel post the opening of theatres, the number of films made in a year will increase because OTT has also started this. There will be a lot of films that will be made for OTT platforms and then there will be films that will go to theatres first and then go digital. There will be more films made in general in 2021. So it's not about competition, but instead it is good news because it creates more opportunities.
Will the opening of theatres help Bollywood get back on track?
I certainly hope so. It is however subjective as to how many people will go and see films in theatres. The entire theatre-going experience is a celebration for an Indian family. You go out with your family, have your lunch or dinner & shop and that's how you see the film. Not just in the comfort of your own house, it is a kind of a celebration which people like doing in our country. If everyone wants to then all the precautions should be taken. Also, there are good films in the pipeline which the audience will definitely go to theatres for.
Will this year-long break affect the Friday numbers and box office figures? Will trade verdict matter anymore?
That is yet to be seen. You can see it in another light; like people are hungry in a way. They haven't had the chance to see a film on the silver screen for a long time. It can be a boon also. The main thing is that precautions are taken and the fright in people's minds that they may contract COVID-19 if they go to the theatre. That has to be there in order for them to take care of themselves. But if you see, people have started going to markets and malls. So when public transport starts, things will get a bit easy I feel. Everyone will take precautions and then go.
Numbers will be in the form of pre-COVID and post-COVID. In the initial stage, we won't have numbers as we had earlier, but as I said if there is a big film, and things go well in the first 5-6 weeks, the comfort level will return and people will start visiting the cinema more often. So the challenge will be the first 4-5 weeks, the genre of films that are coming in, and what precautions the theatres are taking.