“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” —Oscar Wilde
The film industry will undergo a drastic change globally in the post-pandemic world from pre-production to post-production including the professionals working in this industry. Currently, streaming platforms are taking over the big screens causing jitters to the theatre owners. It is like Davids taking on the Goliaths. Will the streaming services end the theatrical experience forever? In this regard, we will differentiate between theatrical experience and streaming platforms and discuss the need the film industry to reinvent in the post-coronavirus world.
COVID-19 has an adverse impact on the entertainment industry. The world of cinema has been devastated. It may take a maximum of two years for the film industry to recover losses. Leaving the top actors, directors, and producers, most people from the film industry including movie extras, dancers, stagehands, and technicians are struggling due to a lack of work and income. There are cases of technicians and actors committing suicide due to a lack of regular income in India. Some actors asked for financial assistance openly. Coronavirus has thrown the film industry out of the gear. It is essential to allow the film industry to reopen as early as possible after taking appropriate precautions.
Theatrical Experience versus Streaming Platforms
OTT (Over-The-Top) platforms offer several options for the viewers to sit comfortably at their home and view films from various categories and languages globally but they cannot create the magic that big screens create. Going to theatres and watching movies on big screens with visual effects is an amazing experience. There is preparation involved in going to the theatres, viewing movies along with others a community, involving into the characters in the movies, experiencing unique emotions, and leaving big screens with valuable takeaways. There is increased attention to the movies and impact on the viewers in theatres which lacks in streaming services. Therefore, it may not be appropriate to compare between streaming services and big screens. The viewers appreciate enjoying action movies and blockbusters on the big screens. Additionally, everyone cannot afford to view movies on OTT platforms due to inaccessibility and digital illiteracy especially in countries like India. It appears that shifting to the OTT platforms is temporary while sticking to the theatrical experience is permanent. Big budget films will be released on the big screens as streaming platforms cannot afford to pay the amount to the producers.
Coronavirus cost the box office billions of dollars. The film industry can be revived through theatrical release because OTT platforms alone cannot boost the industry. Currently, the producers are opting for streaming distribution instead of theatrical distribution to recover their money and ensure rotation of business. They want the show must go on at any cost.
Reinventing the Film Industry
In the new normal, the film industry must use virtual techniques to shoot films. It must update with changing times and technologies. It must reinvent by entertaining the viewers with updated technology. It must reinvent its positioning and packaging to enable the viewers to enjoy all ingredients including emotions, tragedy, comedy, love, romance, sex, stunts, and messages.
Bigs screens provide social experience. Humans are social animals. They appreciate associating with others. It is one of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Due to lockdown, people are forced to watch films through streaming services. Once the lockdown is lifted, they will throng back to big screens to experience real cinema and enjoy the social experience.
The Show will Go On
Although food can be enjoyed at home, some people prefer going outside to eat. Although the partner is available for sex at home, some partners prefer going outside to have sex. Although the films are streamed through services at home, some people prefer going to theaters to view on big screens. So, it is too early to conclude that streaming services will end theatrical experience forever.
In the post-pandemic world, we will have two types of audiences—one audience enjoys both OTT and big screens and another audience enjoys exclusively on big screens.
The show will go on whether it is a theatrical experience or streaming experience. Streaming platforms cannot replace theatrical experience because the latter provides an outing experience to the viewers. As technology cannot replace teachers, streaming platforms cannot replace theatrical experience. To conclude, both big screens and streaming services will survive in the post-pandemic world having their own spaces for their audiences.