Will the post-covid world have seats for the cinema experience?

Will the post-covid world have seats for the cinema experience?

08 Jul 2021

One of the most covid affected industries is the entertainment industry, which includes live concerts, musical, theatre shows, and cinemas. As the title suggests, spotlight is on the cinema industry in this article.

Singaporeans love going to the cinema, and we've got the numbers to back it up. We have one of the world's highest per capita cinema attendance, which stands at 18.5 million in 2019 before its drastic fall to just 4.6 million in 2020. Cinema operators had a lot to deal with in 2020: circuit breaker, reduced seating capacity, delays in the cinematic release of Hollywood films and the rise of streaming services.

It's anybody's guess now, whether cinemas can withstand the test of time (read: covid), or face closure in the near future. If I would indulge in an online discussion on the topic, I would argue that cinemas do have a place in the post-covid world. And here's why. 

Covid has proved that 'everything online' is not the way to go

Zoom fatigue. Digital detox. Social isolation. Need I say more?

These are some of the keywords that I'm sure many, if not all of us, could relate to during the circuit breaker period. Even though Singapore did not enter a full lockdown, the effects of prolonged social isolation could still be felt. 

Covid has resulted in a slew of social distancing measures that has paved the way for online businesses to thrive, yet the hyper-digital experience in 2020 also left many people craving for in-person, real-life interactions. 

Sure, we could stream our movies from the comfort of our homes, and have movie night with more popcorn, snacks and soft drinks than we could get at any cinema. We could even host watch parties with friends to make this into a group activity. 

But we all know that the online experience can be lacking. The atmosphere that a live audience creates, the suspension in the air, the collective gasps at a shocking plot twist, these are things that cannot be created in digitally. And it is these organic experiences that will keep audiences returning to the cinemas. 

The cinema experience rarely starts at the theatre halls

Shopping malls have long relied on cinemas as anchor tenants to draw crowds in. As one of the landmark activities with a mass audience appeal, the draw of the cinema also helps to boost sales throughout the rest of the mall. 

The cinema experience is more than just showing up at the theatre halls to watch a film on a glorified tv. It's the whole routine: from planning a date, dressing up, going for a meal, some light shopping even, then the cinema.

Of course, one might argue that it's much easier to just throw on some pajamas and start streaming from the comforts of your couch. True, but after all this time at home, I'm sure many of us would like a change of environment from time to time. 

Streaming and cinema may not be at direct odds, but find fans who enjoy different aspects of the service. These fans may be purely streaming or cinema fans, or both. The cinema audience is not all lost. 

I for one am rooting for the return of cinemas.

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