Budget 2023: Will Nirmala Sitharaman make movie watching in theatres a massy affair once again?
Budget 2023 is being presented in the parliament today (February 1, 2023) and the Entertainment sector, like every year, has high hopes from the Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman. Depending on which way it goes, it may change the way you and I watch movies in theatres or consume content on the various OTT platforms. First things first, there has been a lot of debate about ticket pricing over the years. The whole experience of watching a movie in theatres has become so extravagant that it is slowly and surely forcing a huge chunk of the middle class and lower middle class, the mass audience, away from the theatres. The pandemic has also change the consumption pattern where audience is now finding solace in the idea of watching content from the comforts of their homes on OTT, vis-a-vis burning a hole in their pockets for buying theatre tickets.
What this will essentially do for the business of films in the coming future is, demarcate the content that is suited for the big screen and that which is perfect on mobile or home screens - OTT that is. With limited footfalls, theatres will a place of exhibition only for big budget, big star cast, big experience movies while the mid-budget films (the ones that had just started to find a place in the theatres a couple of years before the pandemic hit) will have no scope. Even if these small and mid-budget films continue to showcase in theatres, with low box office numbers, they will be labelled 'flop' irrespective of the content. Fetching a good price through satellite rights and OTT streaming deals will become increasingly difficult for these filmmakers, putting a huge risk at the possibility making profits or perhaps even recovering costs in many cases.
The need of the hour from Budget 2023: Entertainment Sector
The first and foremost expectation is to subside movie ticket prices. This will ensure that going to the theatres to watch a movie will no more be a difficult decision and audience belonging to various economical classes will be able to afford the big screen experience. To put things in perspective, Shah Rukh Khan's big budget, big banner film Pathaan has crossed Rs 300 crore mark at the box office with tickets priced at over Rs 1000. It is evident that the audience is spending insane amount for the film. Ask yourself, how many would be okay to spend the same amount of money for a film that doesn't boast of a spectacular visual experience, or a big banner or the Khans and Kumar?
Budget 2023: How will OTT consumption change?
With reduced prices of movie tickets, the pattern of the junta that had stopped or limited their frequency of going to the theatres will change again. But to keep the audience hooked to OTT, the various platforms will be forced to lower subscriptions rates and perhaps introduce newer models of subscriptions to attract the junta as well maintain their viewership.
What Budget 2023 can do?
If these expectations are met, while the film business will thrive and ensure that there is a place to showcase and audience for all small, mid, big budget projects, the aam junta will also stand to benefit as they will have more options of entertainment which will be in their reach.
Union Budget 2023 is live right now as you read this and let's hope Nirmala Sitharaman is able to meet expectations and is able to bring back the massy audience back to the theatres.