NEW DELHI :
Movie-going audiences across India misses the big screen, theatrical experience but will not go back to theatres immediately after they reopen. A new report by media consulting firm Ormax titled 'Back to the Theatre' says 82% of regular theatre-going audiences have been missing the big screen a lot but 47% say they will wait for two to three weeks to decide if it is safe to go.
The online survey was conducted in May 2020 among 1,000 regular theatre-going people in the 15 plus age group across 58 towns and cities of India. It took into account Hindi, Tamil and Telugu movie-going audiences.
About 81% of Hindi audiences, 83% of Tamil audiences and 84% of Telugu audiences were missing theatres a lot, the survey said. Within the Hindi segment, Mumbai scored the highest with 93% respondents showing a pro-theatre sentiment, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar at 81%, Delhi NCR at 80% and other parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat at 79%.
The rush to go back should not be overstated. Only 28% of those surveyed said they will flock back as soon as theatres reopen, 19% said they will wait for a month or two to decide while 6% want to wait for at least six months, according to the survey.
Among those who said they would wait a month, 70% cited safety concerns due to coronavirus fears, 12% said it is no fun to watch movies under fear, 9% said they are now used to watching television and streaming platforms and 9% cited reducing spending power.
“I love watching movies on the big screen but the number of cases is only increasing," said Avantika Sharma, a Bengaluru-based data analyst adding that books and streaming platforms keep her fairly entertained. “There is no reason to risk life, health and mental well-being and pay for it at the same time."
If people do decide to go to the cinema, 88% of priority in the surveywas given to precautions taken by the theatre, 82% to whether the theatre lies in a containment zone or not and 81% to coronavirus cases in the concerned city.
Contrary to the emerging conversations around the fact that medium or small films may now have to look at a direct OTT release, 69% of the audience said they would be willing to go for big, medium-scale and small films depending upon the word-of-mouth. The 15-21 age group was most encouraging of different genres, 74% of the segment said it would be willing to watch all kinds of films and not just those with big stars.
Sukrithi Vyas, a Mumbai-based PhD scholar said she would go only for ‘special movies’ while carrying protective gear and sanitizers.
Audiences would also rather have theatres focus on spending on ensuring safety, than dole out ticket price discounts. 71% of those surveyed agreed ticket prices could remain the same even in these tough times if theatres focus on hygiene and safety measures. Among precautions, sanitization after each show, clean and well-maintained washrooms and hygiene of theatre staff take priority.
While there is positive sentiment associated with going back to theatres to watch movies subject to safety measures, food and beverage consumption does not get audience endorsement. A drop of more than 60% in sales per footfall can be estimated till concerns related to covid-19 remain. Around 27% of people say they will not buy anything at all.
Unsurprisingly, there has been an increase in at-home viewership on TV and digital platforms. 60% of people watch OTT a lot more than before with 37% naming Amazon Prime Video as the preferred destination for Hindi films and Netflix (69%) for Hollywood films.