Finance debt

Curtains for 2000 small cinemas

Around 1,500 to 2,000 movie screens across India could close their doors for good in the coming weeks as the content pipeline remains deprived of new offerings, especially from Bollywood, which is unwilling to release so many new films. that people don’t start going out and going back to the movies. .

Trade experts say individual independent screens see no hope of hanging on to the business, when leading filmmakers and actors, who owe much of their fame and fame to small towns, have picked up 24 Hindi films directly from video streaming platforms. the last months. In addition, most subway and urban audiences are reluctant to go out due to the upsurge in infections.

Bad news has already started to arrive. Last week, five single-screen cinemas in Hyderabad – Galaxy, Sri Rama, Shanti, Amba and Sree Mayuri – closed their doors.

mint previously reported that nearly 45% of Indian movie screens chose not to reopen even after obtaining government clearances in early October due to lack of fresh content and rising sanitizing and sanitizing costs.

Bollywood’s two big deals, ready to release, Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi and sports drama ’83, are both scheduled for the first half of 2021 for the time being.

“The filmmakers do not realize that there will hardly be any cinema by then to play their films, so they will not be able to reap any results on these headlines that they are holding on to,” said the operator. from Bihar, Vishek Chauhan. said adding that only 45 of Bihar’s 200 theaters have resumed operations since obtaining government permits, but many plan to close their doors permanently. About five companies have already sold their properties.

“They have every right, since there is no value to be seen in the business,” said Chauhan, who is also thinking of moving on. Some owners, who approached banks for loans to renovate their theaters, had their applications turned down and told there was no hope for the movie industry.

India has 9,527 cinema screens in 2019 according to the Ficci Media and Entertainment Report 2020, including 6,327 single screens and 3,200 multiplexes.

Independent distributor and operator Akshaye Rathi admitted that many cinemas have already closed with zero revenues. “No visibility of content relevant to the demographics and psychographics of these regions would drive the point deeper,” Rathi said, referring to recent headlines like Laxmii which were directed straight to video streaming with unimpressive results, but would have worked very well with audiences in small towns that do not have access to these OTT platforms and would have easily adopted such a massive commercial tariff.

“A single screen property can cost as much as Rs50 crore. How long can you keep it, especially when you weren’t doing much even before covid? ”Said Chauhan, referring to Bollywood’s growing alienation from small-town audiences and its tendency to attract more urban multiplex enthusiasts with movies like Article 15, Gully Boy and others.

As the Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bengali language industries are coming to the cinemas’ rescue with new offerings such as Quota, Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban, 1978 Law, Yuvarathnaa, Solo Brathuke so better, Pratidwandi, and Kakababur Protyabortan, Chauhan said the pressure is on states that primarily depend on Hindi cinema to run their businesses, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.

“While one can understand the skepticism about the potential loss of business, a great movie can suffer if it comes out ‘too early’, someone just has to take the plunge for the greater good of the industry. the final stop will become stronger by the week. And that damage can last for years, not months, ”Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO of media consultancy Ormax, wrote in a blog earlier this month.

“Inaction can be worse than imperfect action,” he added.

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