On road to recovery: With stellar releases, cinemas see business soaring post-COVID-19 disruptions

After seeing a complete stop due to COVID-19 lockdowns, theatres have been opening slowly across the country. Now, with stellar releases, cinemas are finally seeing a rise in business.
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Indian cinemas finally seem to be on the way to recover from their 18-month intermission after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, during one of the sales of Marvel Studio and Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home and Telugu-language action drama film Pushpa: The Rise, booking platform BookMyShow’s website crashed in certain cities, including Mumbai and Bengaluru, on Monday owing to high demand.

In an email response to YourStory, a BookMyShow spokesperson revealed that 777,000 tickets were booked for the much-anticipated Spider-Man: No Way Home in just one full weekend since advance sales opened on the platform.

The film has clocked the “highest post-pandemic advance sales for any film so far on the platform”, added the spokesperson.

Image source: Shutterstock

The movie’s advance sales have crossed that of both previous Spider-Man films within just one day of the advance sales opening up nationally and across all cinema screens.

“Cinema Chains and independent cinemas are experiencing second busiest advance ticket sales for a single movie title in the entire history of cinema exhibition," The Multiplex Association of India, a nationwide group of cinema operators, said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday, “It is also the second busiest advance ticket sales since cinemas started reopening in October 2020.”

Most states in the country allowed cinemas to reopen between July and September. At present, different states are operating at different capacity restrictions. While theatres in Delhi, Rajasthan, and Karnataka are operating at full capacity, in October, Maharashtra — one of the major centers for the industry — permitted theatres to open with 50 percent capacity.

“We have witnessed a hockey stick growth in user engagement, traffic, and transactions nearing pre-COVID-19 levels on the platform within just the first 10 days of cinemas opening up,” BookMyShow said.

According to the company, consumers from Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Ahmedabad have been the quickest to return back to the movies. These cities contributed to 48 percent of the traffic recovery of the ticket-selling platform during the Diwali weekend.

A stellar line-up of movies has helped. Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi, Rajnikanth’s Annaatthe, Marvel’s Eternals, and Dulquer Salmaan’s Kurup are aiding the recovery of the sector.

In the first 10 days, Sooryavanshi sold more than 2.6 million tickets with 3.3 million tickets sold overall, while Annaatthe (Tamil) crossed 1.3 million tickets within the first week on BookMyShow.

Additionally, within the first 10 days of movies releasing pan-India, daily consumer traffic surged to reach 76 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels on an average while user engagement has been steadily rising the charts already surpassing 66 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels on BookMyShow, the spokesperson told YourStory.

The company has more than 6,000 screens available on the platform, and is present in over 650 towns and cities across the country.

“The huge pent-up demand, improved vaccination coverage across India, and some incredible, entertaining content starting to roll out together has played an effective role in drawing audiences back to theatres in massive numbers,” they said.

“Setting new records on the first day!!” PVR Cinemas tweeted on Monday. It had already sold 100,000 tickets for the first day of release on December 16 of Spiderman as December 13.

Multiplexes like PVR have been ramping up their efforts to assure safety to their audience. Last month, it partnered with UFO Moviez and Allabout Innovations to install ‘UFO-Wolf AirMask’, a cinema-specific air sterilisation device, to offer real-time air sterilisation across all its screens.

The product is recognised by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) Accredited Lab (International).

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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