As cinemas across India have started to reopen, exhibitors are scratching their heads as they consider how to innovate to bring audiences back. From private screenings to the various technologies introduced to ensure security, exhibitors do their best. In the midst of the pandemic, French architectural firm Ōma Cinemas came up with a capsule-shaped design that enforces social distancing, even though the founders, Nicolas and Pierre Chican never imagined this like the case of use when they got the idea. two years ago. It is also a response to cinemas which must adapt to compete with OTT platforms. The founders believe: “In Ōma Cinema, every seat is the best seat in the house”. The company currently has projects under construction in Paris, slated to open in late 2021. Their other areas of focus are the Middle East and Asian markets, and India is key to their strategy, according to The founders.
Forbes India talks to Chican and Jean-Marie Dura, consultant, Ōma Cinemas about their plans for the Indian market. Edited excerpts:
Q. What was the initial idea for Ōma?
Nicolas Chican: Pierre invented this concept about two years ago. He is an architect specializing in the realization of cinemas for more than 30 years now. He wanted to bring viewers closer to the screen. In a traditional cinema, there is a slope of 20 to 25 degrees; Pierre wanted to increase this slope for a better viewing experience, but he could not do so due to accessibility standards, as it would force spectators to climb more stairs. So we decided to divide the room into separate circular boxes, so that all viewers came closer to the screen. Here, the slope is about 50 to 60 degrees, bringing the last lines of the screen closer. Unlike traditional cinemas, all entrances and exits are at the back of the theater, so there is no visual interruption or distraction during the movie. Our goal is to ensure that audiences across the theater have the best viewing experience.
Q. How did the pandemic make the design more relevant?
Nicolas: We’ve been working on this design for over two years now, when there was no Covid-19. But of course, it becomes extremely relevant now and is suitable for people who follow social distancing standards. Most of the cinema operators we approached told us that we had finally found a solution to combine the privacy of being in a private club with a limited number of seats and at the same time enjoying a viewing experience. really immersive.
(LR) Nicolas Chican, co-founder and Pierre Chican, CEO and founder, Ōma Cinema
Q. What are your plans to enter the Indian market?
Nicolas: The project is to approach cinema operators in India, because they already have luxury multiplexes. India is a key market for us because Indians are movie buffs and it is one of the biggest movie markets in the world. We started conversations with a cinema operator in India in early January and they wanted to have a feasibility study on how to integrate égrerma cinema. But after the Covid-19 hit, that was put aside.
Jean-Marie Dura: However, we are now having discussions with some operators, but we are subject to strict NDAs, so we cannot be specific about this. It doesn’t have to be a multiplex, it can be the jewel or flagship offering of the multiplex, but it can also be a standalone or single screen cinema. We have also been approached by cities that want to redevelop certain buildings, with an iconic link and adding unique displays to their portfolio of offerings.
Q. Revenues were close to zero during the lockdown, and the industry is only restarting. Do you think operators would be interested in a redesign at a time like this?
Jean Marie: They are very anxious to do so, especially during times like these. This [situation] calls for two plans of action: first, operators have to face the situation and adjust costs in order to survive. Second, they need to think about and invest in the future. It is more than ever necessary to offer something different to the public so that they want to return to the cinema. It might just be an opportunity for cinema operators to think bigger, smarter, and come up with something new.
Nicolas: I read that people are now paying for private screenings in India. But, with the Ōma concept, you will be able to rent each pod for your family or friends. So, from a cinema operator’s point of view, you can have more private screenings in the same room at the same time. Ultimately, also multiplying their income.
Q. Who is the target audience?
Jean Marie: It is intended for the luxury market, but also for the masses. The movie industry over the last 5-10 years around the world has seen a trend towards a more luxurious experience – reclining seats, more space, and better quality. Ōma fits perfectly.
Q. When will we see the first Ōma cinema in India?
Nicolas: We would like to start by moving forward on the project we were working on before the Covid crisis happened in India. So if all goes well, we plan to start building by the end of next year, depending on the upturn.
Q. What do you think is the threat of OTT platforms for cinemas?
Jean Marie: Exhibitors all over the world are scratching their heads as they think about how to differentiate the experience. This is a great opportunity for us to help operators around the world bring audiences to theaters.
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