Thursday, August 31, 2006

OAT - a declining business?

My recent trip to the Prarthana drive-in Open-Air-Theatre (just 5 kms from home on the East Coast Road) to watch Kamal Hassan's latest release "Vettaydu Vellyadu" forced me to write a blog.

Well, neither am I going to review this movie, nor talk about its 70mm screen, amplifiers, car-parking, fresh air and romantic mood with your babe, or the mosquitoes sucking your
+ve/-ve blood. It’s about this classic form of entertainment loosing its charm to the dozens of multiplexes sprung up in the city, or for that matter the country.

Gone are those days when you couldn’t sit on those hard butt-breaking, spine-cracking seats in theatres, or suddenly find a rat climbing through your pants/sarees/skirts (ahem..). Today, the entertainment industry has changed so rapidly in Chennai with Satyam Cinemas leading the pack in movie entertainment. Housing almost 5 screens that transmit movies to an intelligent audience one after the other, coupled with high-quality DTS surround sound, cosy seats, popcorn/coke holders, gorgeous babes, bowling alleys, games, etc. this multiplex and many more hi-fi theatres have changed the way we look at the cinema entertainment today.
  • In 2nd place are the steadily affordable home-theatre systems, provided you have the luxury of green notes and wide-screen space to accommodate the 6.1 speaker systems and sub-woofers, to make you a convenient couch-potato of the society.
  • In 3rd place is PIRACY, a dreaded word in the film industry.
  • In 4th place is the boom of DTH (digital-to-home) entertainment and introduction of CAS in India, something cable wallas will suffer for sure in the coming years. With a range of nearly 160 channels covering music, movies, sports, and news displayed in digital quality with stereophonic sound, the future of entertainment is in your fingertips. Current leader in India is DishTV (Zee group), while new entrants include TATASky and Anil Ambani's Reliance BlueMagic DTH. What's more, you got radio channels for free thru this system. Now, u may ask why is this in 4th place? Well, my sixth-sense predicts that in the coming 10 years, film distributors may start screening new releases via DTH on the same day it hits the bigscreen (high hopes right :)! No doubt a distant reality, I see this as a positive business oppurtunity for the film industry and am banking my money on this dream.
That leaves us to last best option to watch a movie, the all alone Open Air Theatre excluding the OAT for the IIT students who get special screenings every week. An OAT by far has to be the most relaxed atmosphere to watch a movie.

But, then why is it not >= multiplexes in Chennai? Why can’t they come close to the likes of Satyam or a Devi Paradise. Simple, only 2 shows daily and strictly Tamil movies, NO English, NO Hindi. How the hell is it supposed to gain popularity in Chennai that today comprises a huge chunk of North-Indians and Queen’s English dominated audience?

What’s more, the number of “IT” parks that are just a 30 minute drive to this theatre should definitely attract audience, but because of this pahetic restriction of onleeeeeee Tamil movies, the theatre does not stand a chance to come close to the earnings made by a even a 3*** theatre.

I wonder what is the film fraternity doing about this beautiful OAT in Chennai, the last of its kind. Please SAVE it by promoting it!

Note: I dont get paid to promote this OAT.

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