Smiles, at the end of the tunnel!

15 . Jun . 2020
Reading Time: 3 minutes

We cannot deny that COVID has shaken up the mankind on the planet. With millions impacted and lakhs of lives lost, the mankind is up for a huge test. But somewhere in my heart, I am confident that we humans are not going to take it lying down. We will bounce back with our collective intellectual prowess, and deliver a counter punch to this pandemic. Of course the medical fraternity is leading from the front, but every member of the society will have a role to play, including working professionals like you and me.

And I have reasons to say so. It has gone beyond being just a medical catastrophe, and has become an economic catastrophe as well. Almost all the sectors of the economy have suffered a body blow, and it would surely take a fair amount of time for the world economy to recover.

One such industry in the global economy, which has repetitively shone on the map, not just for its merits of profitability, but also for the wholesome benefits it brings along is none other than the cinema industry. The widespread emotional and experiential benefits that a movie brings along, are beyond comparison, and that is what makes me feel, that this is one industry, which would recover faster, thanks to the sheer emotional power that it rides upon.

The habit of going to a cinema to watch a movie, is not just an indication of your love for movies. The whole idea of watching a movie is often to escape from the present reality to a fantasy world. It is just the ‘holiness’ of that experience which makes you visit your favourite cinema again and again. The ‘holiness’ of going out with friends and folks, jostling for the tickets at the last minute, mandatorily managing to grab the cinema’s staple food popcorn, watching every scene as if it is a leaf out of one of your own life stories, is the propellant which will help the film industry bounce back.

As a matter of fact, it is not a hobby or a habit. Going out to the movies, of course, has always occupied a special and reverent place in our culture, so much so that sometimes the film that is playing is often a matter of secondary concern. Had it not been the case, the numerous surveys which have happened across the globe, as well as in our country indicate that the lockdown is nothing but an aberration, and cinemas will be back to their buzzing best. According to an updated EDO moviegoer study titled “Movie Theaters and Social Distancing held in the USA,” 75% of respondents said they were more likely to return to cinemas upon their reopening when Tenet, Mulan and Russell Crowe’s Unhinged hit — if movie theaters implement certain safety measures. Maoyan Entertainment found in its latest market survey in China that nearly 90% of China’s movie lovers are eager to return to cinemas when they reopen. Event Cinemas, released a survey showing 83 percent of respondents plan to go to the movies within 12 weeks of reopening in Australia and New Zealand. A survey by top cinema website held in Ireland revealed that 99% of the Irish cinema goers are missing the cinemas during the lockdown, and 90% would return to cinema in year 2020. Closer home in India, outcome of a survey held by media consulting firm Ormax Media showed 82% respondents are missing cinema and 75% would return to cinemas within 2 months of the lockdown being lifted.

Jade Flinn, a faculty member at Johns Hopkins Medicine said recently in an interview that in a setting where people are not talking and just passively breathing and wearing masks, it was a safer bet than a noisy, crowded bar. He added that at movie theaters, if people are not eating popcorn and just sitting there with their mask on, they are safer than being in a pub or a restaurant. He added that cinema goers all face the same direction, which further reduces the chances of person-to-person transmission, as long as they’re still social distancing.

Mathematically, scientifically and emotionally, if there is any indication on the near future of cinema across the globe, it is full of nothing but optimism. As an ardent lover of this field, all I see is smiles. Smiles, at the end of this dark long tunnel.

Saurabh Varma