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Big-ticket movies help crowd silver screens but some still wait for digital launch

Big-ticket movies help crowd silver screens but some still wait for digital launch

Big-ticket movies help crowd silver screens but some still wait for digital launch
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By Amrita Das   | Abhishek Jha  Mar 28, 2022 6:49:21 PM IST (Updated)

Moviemakers will have to do extra work to convince movie buffs to spend that extra buck to watch films on big screens. Some people we spoke to want to get back to watching movies at the same rate as before the pandemic due to the experience but some said they would be picky and won't mind waiting for an OTT launch due to cost and convinience.

With COVID-19 cases at a two-year-low and governments scrapping all restrictions, Kamalika Ghosh, a 31-year-old media professional from Delhi, mustered courage to step into a cinema hall to experience S.S. Rajamouli blockbuster RRR.

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She planned to see the movie with friends at an INOX theatre in Indirapuram, bordering Delhi. “I was excited. This was my first movie in two years. Also, my last 3D experience was the 2016 film Jungle Book. So, you can gauge how much I was looking forward to it,” Ghosh said.
The tickets were costlier than before, but Ghosh did not mind that. What she minded was landing in a fully sold-out theatre with only a handful of people wearing facemasks. “I told the usher to demand that everyone wear masks, but he said that people would get angry and even create a ruckus,” she said, adding she wasn’t sure if the situation was similar at other theatres.
She proceeded to watch the movie hesitantly. But her enthusiasm faded when snags hit the screening. “From the beginning, my friends and I thought the graphics were not clear, but we continued watching. After the interval, murmurs among the audience grew and soon the movie was halted due to complaints of poor graphics,” Ghosh said.
After a brief commotion—with people calling for refunds, replacement of 3D eyepieces, and another movie to be played—RRR was “rewinded”. “Can you believe it? I, at least, have never heard any instance like this ever,” she said. “I’m sure we got unlucky. But this brings us back to the topic of would you want to go to such lengths to watch a movie at theatres. I might still catch RRR again at another 3D screen, but for other movies, I would wait and watch it over streaming platforms.”
Abhishek Roy, a 29-year-old IT industry professional from Hyderabad, who has been to the movies after the reopening says the high ticket prices definitely affects his decision to watch a movie at a theatre. “I can wait for movies to come to streaming platforms, even if it is a movie like RRR,” Roy said. “Despite movies opening fully, I would pick and choose which films to watch at halls.”
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Pallavi Dewan, a 29-year-old who works at a startup, hasn’t been to the movies yet after the reopening. “I will not go back to watching movies at theatres at the rate at which I did before the pandemic. I feel waiting for a movie to hit Netflix or Prime isn’t much hassle,” she said. “I did book tickets for Spider-Man, but chickened out because I got paranoid about being in a full-capacity hall.”
A 31-year-old communications professional, who only shared her last name as Bhattacharya, said she had been to the movies after the reopening but might not want to drive to the nearest theatre with every release. “I only go there for films that are ‘must see’ on the big screen, such as Dune or Batman, also because of rising ticket prices. For the rest, I can wait and catch them on OTT (over-the-top) platforms,” she said, adding she found most people following COVID protocols.
Namrata Goala, a 28-year-old management executive at an MNC, also shared Bhattacharya’s views and said she would go to a theatre if it is something she “really wants to watch on a big screen”. A few others raised the issue of ticket prices shooting up to Rs 2,100.
But then there are those like Bahuguna (first name withheld), a 35-year-old film industry professional, who says he doesn’t mind visiting theatres at the same clip he did before the pandemic. “Am I okay waiting for a film to be available on my handheld devices? Depends on the film. It is okay to wait for some, not for some others,” he said, adding the higher expenses of watching films also plays a role. “At times, I delay watching a new release to the following weekday when tickets are comparatively cheaper.”
Warrier (first name withheld), a 37-year-old senior IT industry executive, hasn’t been to the theatres after the reopening but says he would not mind watching movies at the same rate as he did before the COVID restrictions even if it means paying a bit more. “Nothing beats watching things on the big screen. I recently watched Dune on Prime. Since I wasn't happy, I repurchased it on Plex (a streaming platform that allows users to buy and upload quality files). After Plex, I understand how poor OTTs are in terms of quality and compression,” he said.
RRR, meanwhile, seems to have brought back the magic to theatres with RRR. Shares of multiplex chains surged on March 25 with RRR’s launch. Both PVR and INOX stocks hit over 25-month highs. Analysts said RRR is set to break the long-standing box-office earnings record of Baahubali: The Conclusion, as it has already earned Rs 371 crore on the opening and the next day by some accounts. Sunday earnings are yet to be announced.  Baahubali: The Conclusion had earned Rs 526 crore in the opening weekend.
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