The Rise Of Online Streaming
The way we consume entertainment content has permanently changed. Thanks to the pandemic. Said the wise men. And I agree with it only partially. It hasn’t changed. It is being changed by a few people. Who want to influence others. To some extent it’s successful. But not for long. As theatrical movie watching experience is yet to be trumped.
How can you watch a film like Baahubali on small screens and experience the spectacle? Who will give you the goosebump-ridden kick when Ravi Teja makes an entry in Krack except the combined and collective movie watching experience in a theatre? Imagine. Just imagine. You’re watching Krack on your mobile phone, and your mother asks you to bring a milk packet. Or the doorbell rings. So, you get my point.
Expansion of OTTs Is A Reality
But the expansion of the OTTs is a reality. People started consuming content online is a reality. A couple of new online streaming platforms came out is a reality. But Krack bracing 50% limitation on seats to become a huge blockbuster is also a reality. Vakeel Saab trumped ticket price limitations and resurging pandemic is also a reality. That Godzilla Vs Kong became a global blockbuster with 25-50% of seating limits is enough of proof that cinema in its traditional form isn’t dead.
Funnily, a not so much known film titled Nobody is a raging hit in the United States and a few other countries it released. Surprisingly, it’s not a blockbuster film like Godzilla vs Kong. It’s just an old school actioner. A normal action film that’s long gone out of fashion which was generally aimed at people of 40-50 years age group. But still, those who were stuck at home for more than a year watched it and gave a new lease of life to the genre. There’s still enough innovation in traditional cinema.
The Cinematic Nirvana
Netflix... okay! Amazon Prime? Okay! Disney Plus, Hotstar, HBO Max, simultaneous theatrical and OTT release? Okay! But people still love to watch the films in theatres. Chinese watched a sentimental melodramatic science fiction comedy Hi, Mom in theatres and made it a bigger hit than Wonder Woman with a global box office of $830 M. Why? Movie watching is a shared experience. It cannot be done like watching a love sport on TV. A big screen is a must. An atmosphere is another must. The same collective mania about something makes it a nirvana of sorts.
Spiritual nirvana can be attained by an individual. There are no second thoughts about it. But certain things are to be experienced collectively. Cinema is one such thing. You may get the gist of a story. You may make head and tail of what’s happening watching it on a small handheld screen. Could you look at your sides and feel the same laughter or pain or sarcasm or fun ebbing and flowing through them and you? No.
In The Short Term
When Warner Brothers released Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max, many fans wondered how they could watch it in the areas that’s not available. The solution is iTunes or surprise surprise BookMyShow streaming. Now BookMyShow is offering ATT Style of pay-per-view rental or outright purchase of a film through its app and website. Apart from being the ticket vending website, it has now turned into a complete entertainment consumption website of global proportions.
But this surge of OTTs and ATTs sustainable? In the short term, yes. But not long term. Just like the TV was trumped by the cinemas in the late 1960s and early 1970s after succumbing to it in the 1950s through the early 1960s, this too shall pass. OTTs and ATTs are just supplementary parts of entrainment.
As long as there are people who when meeting others ask their friends what movie you have watched? As long as there’s something called a subconscious experience in human psyche, it’s impossible to replace cinema. People may not watch it in the same theatres as they have been doing for the last 120 years, down the line in a 100 years. But bigger screens and the art of visual storytelling for bigger screens remain a part of our existence. Cinema is around us. Beside us. And inside us. Our imagination is a film and our mind’s eye is the screen. Can they be replaced? Nah! S cinema lives with us.