True! But isn’t that how we have felt before any major evolutionary event in human history? I have been a lover of the theatrical experience since childhood, but I feel that maybe it’s time for a change. Here are 3 reasons I feel so:
1. Change of Consumer Habits
The pandemic is there to stay and even if the vaccination speeds scale up, it won’t be possible for theatres to ever operate at their full capacity at least for the next 12 months. Hence even after theatres open up when it is safe for people to live with minimal distancing, it would be a task to convince the consumer who would be habituated to watch their favourite movies at the convenience of their time, without having the headache of booking a ticket, sitting comfortably inside their homes at a much lesser cost than they would need to pay for a big release on the opening weekend.
With the internet penetration projected to increase much more in the rural demography of India, it won’t be difficult for OTTs to make a market that is as of now untapped. Expectations are of Jio having the first-mover advantage since they are the only ott provider which also provides Internet and Telecom Services. Hence the pricing and access will be the least of their worries in comparison to their competitors.
3. Amount Of Content
Another impact of the pandemic and the OTTs complemented by the high-speed internet availability coming in has been the increase in the number of films and web series that are being produced thereby providing much more opportunities to artists and creators, also leading to significantly better content.
4. Stars In Their Own Right
With the advent of Tiktok and the ever-increasing popularity of YouTube now more than ever, there is only a thin line between the creator and the consumer. There are social media influencers who create content on a daily basis sometimes reaching millions of their subscribers. It won’t be wrong to say that they are stars if not superstars in their own right. Though these creators don’t charge us but come to think of it, even if they did maybe 50 rupees( much less than the ticket for a movie) for a video that crosses over a million views, the revenue amounts to 5 crores on day 1. That’s quite comparable in terms of ROI to any small budget movie that releases in theatres.
We don’t need to pay for such videos since they rely on AVOD. These influencers have a dedicated fan following which is evident with the stupendous amount of engagement that not even most stars enjoy on their Instagram handles. Hence I believe that the next 5 years will see influencers, YouTubers, content creators acquiring a status that would at par with many of the A-league stars in our country.
Cinema halls as a medium became popular because they were a form of entertainment providing an escape from everyday life by offering storytelling at an affordable rate and with easy access to people( stars) who inspired us. cinema too replaced plays at some point in time because of the easy access that they delivered since plays are performed live. Maybe OTTs complemented by the high-speed Internet and the pandemic adding to it has just paced the next stage of revolution in the entertainment industry
Producers now won’t have to worry about the box office after their film has been acquired by a platform for a definite amount. Moreover, the cost of making a film will reduce significantly as the views won’t be attributable to the star in the film. They now would not need to spend so much on stars and hence the cost of production would reduce
More content means more jobs for artists and creators, leading to better content. Also, the inequality in income in the industry will tend to narrow down. Although I still believe that the event films like a Brahmastra or an 83 may still release in theatres my optimism as far as theatres go is limited to only those releases. For other films, I believe that the audience going to cinema halls will be limited to the elite crowd ( with the increase in the ticket prices due to low demand) or the art lovers much like the audience that attends a live play.
In my opinion, such a system will eventually organically manifest itself in the next 2 years since it is a win-win for the creators, the producers, and most importantly- the audience!