Movie exhibition industry to be 'in trouble' without govt support amid rising COVID-19 cases, says PVR chairman

Globally, governments have come and helped the industry and even furlough was given with huge rescue packages, said PVR chairman Ajay Bijli.

Press Trust of India April 21, 2021 12:29:25 IST
Movie exhibition industry to be 'in trouble' without govt support amid rising COVID-19 cases, says PVR chairman

Representational Image. News18

If the current pandemic continues longer and fails to get any support from the government, the cinema exhibition industry would be in trouble, said PVR chairman and managing director Ajay Bijli.

Asking for a rescue package for the movie exhibition industry, Bijli while speaking at an event organised by AIMA said it is not a good situation as the number of cases continues to climb.

"If it carries too long and we do not get any government support whatsoever, then we are in trouble. The exhibition industry is in trouble," said Bijli.

Globally, governments have come and helped the industry and even furlough was given with huge rescue packages, he added.

"The whole thing was considered as force major and rental redemption by developers was also considered," he added.

The film exhibition industry is facing hardship. Last year, multiplexes in India had reopened in October for public screening after nearly seven months with certain riders as to run with half of sitting capacity.

Now, again, as the number of cases spiked in the second wave, in several states, cinema halls have been again shut down as a measure to curb the pandemic.

When being asked about the future of the film exhibition industry, Bijli said, "I am pretty clear and optimistic about the future of cinema."

"The moment things open up and we are able to control the pandemic, through whichever means vaccination or something else, people would come back. It difficult to incarcerate people at home," he said.

While citing performances of some of the recently released movie, which has done well at the box, Bijli said there is a "pent-up demand, people want to go out" to watch out movies on big screens and have popcorn kind of experience.

The driver of the film business is human behaviour and humans are not made to incarcerated at home.

"The moment things come back to normal, It is too much in our fabric and part of DNA to go out and consume movies and the channel is not going to go away that easily," he added.

Over the emergence of home entertainment and growing acceptance of OTT platforms by several producers for releasing their films bypassing exclusive theatrical releases, Bijli said it was because movie halls were closed for a long time.

"Whatever we are doing at home it's not by choice but by default," he said adding that "people are talking about home entertainment because out-of-home entertainment is shut".

India has a robots cinema market and room to grow because of the lesser number of screen. In comparison to the US which has around 40,000 screens and 70,000 screens in China, India has roughly 3,500 screens, he added.

While talking about the recent releases, Bijli said theatrical release has an economic rationale also as still 60-70 per cent of any content which has been created, the revenue of that content comes from this channel.

"If theatrical is shut, then it becomes difficult for the others for monetisation journey to happen properly.

"Whatever is happening just now because cinemas as shut, platform needs contents and consumer needs a movie. All these transactions are having because of cinemas," he said.

Bijli also added that as the cinema industry was closed for a year and OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney+Hotstar were buying movie, it has ultimately help the industry.

"I was happy as money was going back into the industry. The more money goes back into the film industry, the more they get encouraged to make movies. Suppose, there was no money going back into the film industry, how would they make further content," he said.

Expressing similarly, former president (Asia-Pacific) of Walt Disney Company and former chairman of Star and Disney India Uday Shankar said cinema halls are going to get bigger and bigger.

"People have not stopped to going to the theatre and they would go back to the theatre with a vengeance after it opens. It would make the movie business much loner," he said.

But, for monetisation of contents, there are now multiple avenues.

"Multiples of monetisation avenues are opening up and the economics of creativity is just getting better and better," he said adding that "that economic is going to get even better".

According to him, this has made the consumer ecosystem stronger and more choices and option.

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