Last monday, metro carried a story about how multiplexes are eating away the custom of traditional cinema halls. We gathered that several closed cinemas are trying to convert to multiplexes. There is certainly merit in this move towards multiplexes. Multiplex, after all, means shared costs. More importantly, it also means shared onus of recovering overheads and generating profit. It is a like team game: if Sachin fails you look to Dravid to score some runs. That is a huge benefit given the unpredictability of the movie business.
The other side of the story is, however, not so self-evident. What benefits do multiple screens offer to the viewer' What in multiplexes do the audience love so much that cannot be offered by halls like Ujjala, New Cinema and Globe' Instead, they are being forced to shut down.
Multiplexes obviously give the viewer a freedom of choice. They can choose a movie from a menu card. That is a clear benefit. The moot point is ' could Ujjala, instead of closing down, have joined hands with Basusree, Bijoli, Bharati, Indira and Purna and created a consortium with a centralised booking office'
That also perhaps is not the main issue. The audiences are unlikely to have fallen in love with multiplexes just because of the freedom of choice. It would be myopic not to consider the total multiplex experience -- from car parking to ticket booking, from window shopping to comfort of seating, from snacking in the hall to the dinner afterwards. The real difference is in the totality of the out-of- home entertainment experience.
The important question that needs to be answered is whether halls like Globe and Ujjala need more screens on their premises. Or is their a real need for an enhancement of audience experiences far beyond watching the movie'
It may justifiably be pointed out that more than a movie experience is already on offer. Some halls today arrange timings in such a way that their patrons get an opportunity to queue up before the show on crowded public footpaths. The idea is to let you experience the real world before you are allowed to enjoy the reel world. Then there is a bit of gym thrown in -- you are required to climb up multiple floors quickly ' because the movie may have started already.
You enter the by then dark auditorium. You are now given the opportunity of being a trapeze artist. There is no danger of falling down. All that may happen to you on your way to your seat in the middle of the row is a twist in your ankle. At the end of this, you are expected to squeeze yourself into a less than adequate seating space. Make no mistake; this also is an audience service. It is a subtle reminder that you need to shed some more weight.
After you sit down, there would be others doing the trapeze act in your close proximity. They have to get to their seats beyond yours. At that point you are compelled to take in a bit of yoga. Your knees are in a tight fit between your seat and the one in front of you. To allow uninterrupted passage you will be required to bend your legs, hold the knees together and press them on to your chest. This is called movieasana. It is taught free in cinema halls. Now you are ready mentally and physically for the feature film.