New Delhi, Jul 24 (PTI) PVR Cinemas on Friday said they are counting on good content and a positive word of mouth from viewers for an increase in footfall once the government gives a go ahead to theatres to open their doors for general public.
Theatres in India closed in March due to the coronavirus-led lockdown but theatre chain owners hope that they are included in ‘Unlock 3’, the government’s phase-wise opening up of businesses.
Earlier this month, the Multiplex Association of India had submitted a list of SOPs to various ministries as well as Prime Minister’s Office and Niti Aayog with an aim to assure the government about its preparedness in security protocols.
“There are all levels of consumers. There are some who will be slightly bolder, there are some who are followers and then there are some who are completely negative. So we are hoping to first reach out to the optimistic guys who are okay to come and have the confidence.
“Once that happen the game plan is, we use them as evangelist. We want to make them feel safe so that they go out and tell the others about their experience in our theatre,” Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Cinemas said in an interview during the media preview of the safety arrangements made in their theatres.
The multiplex chain, which operates a cinema circuit comprising 845 screens at 176 properties in 71 cities in India, has introduced initiatives such as staggered seating, social distancing marked queuing, digital transactions, 50 per cent operation of the restroom facilities, installation of fiber and glass shields to ensure the safety of their consumers and staff members.
Other safety measures include daily mandatory health screening of all the employees. They will also wear PPE gear, face masks, gloves and face shields for extra protection.
Special PPE kits with masks, gloves and sanitisers have also been made available for purchase. The entire theatre premises have undergone a complete ULV sanitization process, which helps in coating the surface with anti-microbial layers for up to thirty days. The process will be repeated at regular intervals, he said.
Dutta said they are aware of the “fear” that may stop the audiences from going for a movie outing, but hopes the steps they have taken will motivate cinephiles to visit their halls.
“We need to understand the need for coming out and watching films. Currently, the fear is taking over, with people saying ‘I love it, but I will not go’. There are people who are old and have other issues, they will surely take their time. But as far as all our addressable audience is concerned, they will take just a few weeks to return.” Many trade pundits have predicted that the post-lockdown future of theatres rely on the star-studded projects. Dutta, however, believes a good mix of big budget movies and content-driven stories is important to bring people to cinema halls.
“Blockbusters don’t only drive cinema business. We get 1,400 films a year, which means roughly about over 100 films a month. In a year, there are only about 30 to 35 blockbuster films. Only those films do not ride this business. In fact, the moment from stars to stories is already happening.” He said it is not that movies featuring big stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan always work.
“Plenty of content-driven films are ready and are eyeing a release. The mix of both in fact will have more blockbusters because some of the big films have not yet released. So they will all come together,” he added.
Two big films – Akshay Kumar’s Rohit Shetty-directed cop drama “Sooryavanshi” and Kabir Khan’s “ ‘83’”, featuring Ranveer Singh – are scheduled to bow out on Diwali and Christmas respectively, while other titles are yet to fix a release date due to the changing COVID-19 situation.
Dutta said small budget films have a great opportunity as many people are looking forward to come to theatres.
“The first two three months will be lean as production houses will start marketing their big titles. So in that window, the pent up demand will be so high. It is a great window for small and medium budget films because people will just want to see some new content,” he said.
He added that there will be no jump in ticketing prices.
“Ticket prices will be lower initially and then we will largely get back to where we were originally.” PTI SHD BK SHD SHD