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Indians Are Watching More Movies in Theatres to Escape Economic Slowdown

Even as unemployment rises and the country’s economy slumps, the movie theatre business is doing better than ever because of people wanting to ignore all the negativity.

by Shamani Joshi
10 October 2019, 7:00am

Photo via Maxpixel

Whether you’re having a bad day or going through a breakup, going to the movies is a surefire way to escape your emotions and get immersed in someone else’s. Reel life has always helped real life be more tolerable. But in an interesting development in India, people are watching more movies in theatres as the country goes through one of it’s worst economic slowdowns. According to PVR Cinemas, the country’s largest operator of multi-screen theatres, despite the economy slowing down to a six-year low and unemployment rising rapidly, the movie theatre business is actually doing better than ever.

“I think the slowdown is helping the cinema business,” Kamal Gianchandani, the chief executive officer at PVR told Bloomberg. “There is negativity around and people want to escape it.”

Gianchandani said that while the movie theatre business was hit by the cricket matches being aired on television early this year and the emergence of digital platforms like Netflix that allow the audience to customise their movie-viewing experience in the comfort of their homes, things have been looking up since Bollywood flick Kabir Singh released in June. The PVR exec further noted that people are now even appreciating small-budget films with lesser-known actors.

According to Bloomberg, the stocks of multiplex chains PVR and Inox Leisures Limited have outperformed most publicly-traded companies on the small-cap companies index of the stock exchange. Gianchandani said that footfalls have risen by 20 percent this quarter and will “remain strong”. However, financial services company Edelweiss securities points out that while movie theatres are more or less immune to the effects of the economic slowdown, the advertisements that air in theatres will be affected more.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to stay relevant, cinemas like PVR are tying up with motion technology companies to make theatre seats sway and jerk according to on-screen action. “It is not just the content. There is something else at play that is aiding the film business,” Gianchandani told Bloomberg. “I won’t say we are happy with the slowdown, but we have no complaints because the business is doing well.”

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