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CX To Drive Growth For Multiplexes

Recovering swiftly from the tumultuous times, the cinema sector will transform in a big way and for the better, writes Pramod Arora, Chief Growth and Strategy Officer, PVR Ltd

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The film exhibition business was one of the earliest and the hardest to be hit by the global pandemic. From prolonged theatre shutdowns to a drop in audience footfalls, film exhibitors faced several challenges that impacted both their business and revenue in the last year and a half. The pandemic created a major upheaval in the cinema exhibition space. But the hard-hit cinema industry is now projected to rebound strongly and grow by more than a quarter by 2025 according to a new report from the global consulting firm PwC.

Cinemas around the world are reopening and demand for film entertainment remains high with people just tired of being stuck in their homes. Recent big-ticket theatrical releases have led to a surge of people wanting to get back to watching movies on the big screen. Following are the key trends that are likely to continue shaping the media and entertainment industry landscape in 2022.

1. Out-of-home entertainment

In many respects, out of home entertainment became secondary to a place where people could connect and spend time together. OOH entertainment avenues would make cinemas the prime source of entertainment outside homes. For many people, 2020 was a harsh wake-up call about the importance of shared experiences. Theatres can reinvent themselves by thinking about how they can personalise experiences. The key is to make a trip to the theatre for a unique, customised event for consumers that involves things like better food, more comfortable seats, sound, projection, ambience and the possibility to privatise a room. 

For the entertainment industry, a whole new level of interactivity and immersion to the storytelling and visual spectacles through presentation technologies combined together will help retain cinema’s edge over home entertainment. These include 3D, 4K, IMAX, 4DX, SCREENX, high dynamic range (HDR), motion seating, laser projection and high frame rates (HFR) to provide an immersive experience that can’t be replicated at home. There has been a growing segment of people wanting to spend at OOH activities coming from the higher socioeconomic background in the post-pandemic era which indicates that venues will need to cater to their higher standards, tastes, values, and preferences. 

2. Catering to changed audience behavior

Audiences are responding to expose themselves in immersive entertainment which is what will prepare consumers to invest their time. Enhancing the cinema experience with technological innovations like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Glassless 3D, and 4D experiences will also play a key role in catering to the change in audience behaviour while consuming content. 

The traditional movie viewing experiences will need to adapt to a differentiated experience which OTT platforms may not be able to replicate. This may include introducing themed screenings, creating drive-in theatres, recreating an immersive movie viewing experience for visitors and even valuing their waiting time at the lobby before the start of the movie. Many millennials these days consider going to the theatre more often when premium features are offered which way, they can enjoy the unique movie experience. This highlights the need for exhibitors to invest in theatrical experiences that include premium features like large, comfortable chairs, immersive sound, and large-format screens.

3. Promoting alternative content

Various film exhibitors have been experimenting with a whole range of alternative content over the past few years to showcase content that will provide unique entertainment beyond just films. Going forward, we will see a lot of potentials for alternative content to be showcased across the masses. Film exhibitors have started to rely heavily on alternate content in the form of screening live matches, hosting sports tournaments and world cup matches for moviegoers as well as musical concerts, stand-up comedy shows. The e-sports segment steadily gained popularity amongst the youth during the COVID-induced lockdowns. By actively promoting esports, movie theatres generated additional revenues and attracted a new segment of the audience to the magic of big-screen experience while sparking esports interest at the local level through community-driven tournaments and events. 

4. Food hygiene will be of utmost importance to movie buffs

The food and beverage industry will most certainly have a great comeback post the pandemic. The time should be seen as an opportunity by curators to create ideas and bring innovation into their menus. People will look for new things but definitely, the classics will hold a place of importance too. Gourmet Food, healthy street food options matching exact local flavours at cinemas would be the main reason for audiences to come out of their homes to entertain themselves to compliment the movie viewing experience. Cinemas should popularise food options in various cuisines and meals in easy to eat format in a cinema environment which would relax patrons, knowing that they will get food that can meet up to their needs. In view of the diverse audiences that cinemas cater to with content made in multiple regional languages, cinema food would need to adapt to local & regional tastes.

5. Localised content strategy

There has been an upward trend in language sensibilities among viewers today. To make deeper inroads into India, the cinema exhibition industry will have to look at widening local content in 2022, focusing on regional languages like Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi and much more.  

Even though these are challenging times for film-makers and exhibitors, the charm of the big screen is never going to fade. Pundits had predicted the demise of the cinema when television was launched, then again when the video players were introduced and then again when DVDs came out. They were wrong every time. For the industry, no doubt these are challenging times, but this too shall pass, and the sector will transform in a big way and for the better. For the future, cinema chains are moving towards premiumisation with better screens, broader F&B menus, and convenient booking options to make movie watching a more engaging and immersive experience.



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