Contagion: How coronavirus may change India's entertainment industry

Movie buffs wishing to watch 83, (released in April), the Kapil Dev biopic with Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, or Sooryavanshi (released in March), with Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, will have to stay away and this could open the way to a new trend in watching movies.

Closing movie theaters and multiplexes for at least a few months due to the coronavirus lockout could have growing implications for the future of entertainment.

Box office revenues for Indian films will undoubtedly decline, thanks to “social distancing,” said Kishore Lulla, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Eros International.

The last two years have seen a continuous consolidation of the cinema-theater trade with the four main players – PVR, INOX, Carnival Cinemas and Cinepolis – dominating multiplex screens in India.

The largest, PVR, has 706 screens spread over 152 properties in 60 cities. All of this was closed indefinitely. Lulla, who has partnered with Chinese distributors for his films, says the comments he is getting are that theaters are expected to open in China in a few months. “However, once the theaters are open, the new standard will be that operators there sell tickets at 25% capacity, to avoid the risk of relapse of a contagious disease,” he said.

“It could even become a global trend.” He says that even when the disease is contained and suppressed, there is a high probability that people will avoid the crowded facilities for some time.

An industry veteran said, “Entertainment consumption will change forever and the road to recovery will be long since there is no vaccine or cure visible at hand.” It’s all about containment. “He adds that nobody would go out in theaters for a long time and that when they did, that would change their habit and the steps would have decreased by more than half.

He says: “There will be two to three months of confinement, and when there is normalcy, the risk is a relapse and a return to blockages. So 2020 is a wash. “

Lulla adds that box office sales will drop sharply in the near future.

“I hope people still need entertainment and that is something that is available in digital form. Industry revenues are expected to increase dramatically for distributors and online content platforms.”

He says that the shares for different formats will change but that the overall entertainment pie could increase, given the state of bottlenecks around the world.

Akash Banerji, business manager, Voot Advertising Platform, says he has seen a 25% increase in the average number of daily sessions per user for the Voot online content platform.

Over a third of Voot’s subscribers used the app at least five times a day, spending more than an hour in total.

“Some of our shows have become superhits with a 40% increase in consumption for the 15 most popular shows in all genres and languages,” says Banerji. He adds that “an eight-inch, 12-inch, or even 50-inch screen cannot compete with a great movie experience.”

Last year was also good for the industry, with growth higher than expected by 15.1% in the 2019 financial year, with more than 13 films each passing through 100 crores of Rs at the box office. .

This made it the best performance in the industry, with content occupying a central place and low-budget films turned out to be money-makers.

According to an analyst report from Kotak Equities, the key trends in the industry’s box office collections (NBOC) have revealed two trends: the growth in the number of films crossing the brand Rs 100-crore and Rs 200-crore and the rise of young stars.

The report went on to detail how, in recent years, the top five films have driven the growth of the NBOC due to the declining performance of the big stars (the three Khans).

At the same time, this was offset by the rise of a new batch of stars which include Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor and Tiger Shroff.

Once the disease is contained, the film industry must see the emergence of new models and this will also depend on the dynamics of the big operators.

“Augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality are some new technologies that may become more common in the entertainment industry,” says Lulla.

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