(Photo: Mint)
(Photo: Mint)

Opinion | Movie theatres will survive

There is something unique about the experience of watching a film in a dark hall on a big screen in the company of others

Reliance Industries’ plan to enable premium users of JioFiber to watch movies on personal devices on the very day of their release has stoked concerns over the future of cinema halls. The share prices of multiplex firms such as PVR Ltd and Inox Ltd fell in apparent response to the announcement. Reports suggest that even malls and restaurant owners are worried that RIL’s plan would jeopardise their income streams. And quite understandably so—if a new service lets one watch a film from the comfort of one’s home on the day of its release, movie-going is likely to be hit.

So, are cinema halls at risk? Not quite, actually. There is something unique about the experience of watching a film in a dark hall on a big screen in the company of others. Consider the phenomenon of emotional contagion. Laughter, for instance, is one reaction that gets amplified—or even triggered at times—by the sound of others laughing. Think of sitcoms. Sometimes, a sense of camaraderie develops when you hear strangers responding the same way to a scene on a big screen. And when it’s dark, it’s easier for people to let go of feelings held deep within. There’s no better place for a good cathartic cry than a sniffly hall with nothing visible except the tearjerker everyone’s eyes are on.

The truth is that cinema is immersive in a way that no handheld device can be. For that reason alone, theatres are unlikely to go out of business, no matter how quickly we get access to the latest entertainment fare.

Close