Will we experience the magic again?

I have been an ardent advocate of the superiority of the communal viewing experience of a movie theater for the past many years. Ironically 5 months have passed since I last watched a movie in the theatre. That the movie was Jojo Rabbit, a critically acclaimed hilarious take on Hitler, is the only saving grace in this unfortunate narrative.

Raj Mandir, the prettiest single screen in India (My Rajasthan trip 2016)
Raj Mandir, undoubtedly the prettiest cinema in India (Rajasthan Trip 2016)

News that theaters might open from August 1 was music to my ears, but only momentarily. Do I have the courage to go back so soon? Nope, Clearly not!

At the proposed 25% occupancy level recommended by the I&B ministry, the analyst in me questions the financial feasibility of the move if it materializes at all.

On the other hand, the film-lover inside me imagines what the definition of a “houseful” & “hit” movie would be going forward??

The last time I was denied tickets at the counter was Ghajini, over a decade ago! This time around I imagine I would be welcomed with open arms (what is the equivalent of a flying kiss for a hug, I wonder?) by the staff, who will be hopefully showering me with Rose water like they do in wedding receptions (more like sanitizer probably, I think).

om shanti om, deepika padukone, shah rukh khan
Will those crowds gather with the same level of craziness again?

I look at share price charts of Inox & PVR. They have been decimated from their peaks ever since lockdown started. Hopes of unlock (1.0,2.0 & I think we are at 3.0 right now, but who is keeping count anymore?) bring about momentary cheer in them, only to meander like a mean reverting time series.

Value Trap?

The analyst in me again ponders on a potential structural shift that might have already happened in consumer behavior, with OTT platforms leaving no stone unturned to capture eyeballs & their wallet-share with a never-ending pipeline of content that’s clearly feeding unsatiating hunger for entertainment. Will we line-up to watch movies just like we did outside alcohol shops?

Q1-20 subscriber addition consensus beat by >50%

The cinema geek inside me reminisces. Just 2 years ago, the Cannes Film Festival famously dissed Netflix when it toed the line drawn by the French Cinema theatre chains that mandated a 36-month window between a theatrical release & a streaming debut of a feature. Netflix did not budge and Roma never graced celluloid in the French Riviera.

The tables today have turned and how!

That this took a virus & 600k+ deaths to achieve this is soul crushing.

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