Going to the movies is an integral part of urban India’s entertainment game plan. Watching movies is something we do regardless of who the star cast is or what the plot is about. Cinema is an essential option we pick when it comes to leisure or the art of doing nothing.
2020 started on the back of a rock-solid 2019. 2019 saw several films break the 100 crore box office barrier. What was heartening was that the list was not restricted to the usual suspects like the Khans and Kapoors. Avengers End Game was perhaps the biggest hit of the year and several non-A lister star films such as Uri also became part of the 100 crore club. This has resulted in several movies doing well and the diversification of successful movies to non-Hindi, which also gave birth to a new generation of actors who are viable at the box office.
This trend has not gone unnoticed and ensured that the listed cinema companies were the darling of the investor community with ever-growing market caps. The fact that India is still under-screened, and our screen density was as little as 10 per million people as compared to 90+ for China and 120+ for the US has meant that cinema was on a growth trajectory that would last for the foreseeable future. Cinema being the crux of iTV (Interactive Television) and us being in the advertising and media industry, noticed this trend and rewarded this medium with the tag of the second-fastest growing medium for the last few years behind Digital. Almost every advertiser worth his salt has invested in Cinema in the last few years, which Is a far cry from the past.
All these were, of course, the past trends and predictions. The pandemic has changed it all! Cinemas were shut for over six months and even after opening, there were restrictions imposed on capacity. But I still think that we may be entering the Best Ever Year for Cinema. We are social creatures and I bet that most of us are waiting to live our lives like before. We at iTV believe that if there are no further lockdowns and if the virus is controlled, the 12 months starting April end will be the best year ever for Cinema.
Master, the Tamil film that released on January 15 has grossed more than Rs 250 crore worldwide and Rs 150 crore from Tamil Nadu alone. The lack of new releases in the last one year has meant that we will witness a content jam in the next few months with close to twenty big Bollywood films, eight to ten Hollywood films and many more regional language films lined up.
I can highlight a lot more data points on how the demand is coming back and how we are consuming products and services with a vengeance after being locked up for a year, but the main factor is that movies are a part of our DNA, part of our Indianness. Cinema houses and the movie-going experience has not just survived but also thrived while facing multiple challenges from the World Wars to the advent of the VCR to piracy and we will thrive even now. To do that though, we will transform the movie-going experience and make it more relevant in a post-pandemic, post-OTT and post-modern world. That will be a churning process where some ideas will be tried and discarded and some will succeed but man’s need to be entertained outside the confines of his home is eternal and it does not get better than a large screen, dark auditorium, and surround sound in the company of friends and family. We’ll see you at the movies soon!