The Coronavirus is forcing cinemas around the world to close. Could video gamers come to the rescue?
Coronavirus has forced cinemas around the world to close their doors. Sadly, some will never reopen again. But could cinemas ride out the storm by temporarily repurposing themselves for video games, weddings, funerals, and other functions?
Cinemas can’t function in a Coronavirus world because social distancing and other measures make it near impossible. This, coupled with no one wanting to risk sitting in a packed cinema, has placed the cinema sector in a very precarious position. Many have simply opted to close their doors and hope they have enough cash left to reopen when things return to normal.
But what if they could serve a smaller, easier to manage audience?
Over the past decade, cinemas have rushed to replace their film-based projectors with digital projectors. All of which are easy to hook up to computers, consoles, or any device with digital video output. This makes it usable for a wide range of tasks that people would willingly pay for.
Playing Video Games on the Big Screen
What could be better than playing Mario Kart on a 50-foot high definition screen, with banks of surround speakers blaring out the sound? What about playing it split-screen with 3 of your friends or family? Or what about a tournament on the big screen with your friends?
There is a whole range of party games, multiplayer games, and beat ‘em ups games that would play great on the big screen. And apart from a few cables, most cinemas are already set up to offer you your gaming Nirvana! They can even provide you with snacks and drinks while you play.
Complying with local coronavirus guidelines wouldn’t be a challenge either. Even if you organized a sizeable gaming tournament of 16 or even 32 people, social distancing wouldn’t be a problem.
After nearly a year of Coronavirus, even gamers are looking for an opportunity to get out of the house to do things with friends. So, on one hand, we have cinemas that can offer gaming heaven and on the other, we have gamers looking for a new experience. It should be a match made in heaven.
Cineworld cinemas in the UK already offer such a service, but they don’t exactly go out of their way to advertise it. There is a small link tucked away in the footer of their web page and that’s it. While the cinema was in full swing with packed out screens, offering gaming services in such a low key way made sense. But now, gaming should be placed at the forefront of their services.
Selling spaces to play games along with accompanying snacks and drinks will not rescue the cinema industry. But what it could do is, help keep the lights for longer and to keep some staff in work. Hopefully long enough for things to return to normal.
Family Events on the Big Screen
Weddings and funerals have also presented enormous problems in the Coronavirus world. Facilities are often too small to accommodate extended families and friends and often have to limit the number of people attending to a dozen or less.
To get around this many facilities stream their events live on the internet so people can watch from home. But do people really want to watch their loved ones get married or buried on a small laptop screen, while sat in their pajamas? After all, a big part of weddings and funerals is bringing families back together and being around friends and family.
What if they streamed the wedding or funeral to a cinema instead? A socially distanced averaged sized cinema could host up to 50 friends and family. Even when socially distanced, that has to be a better way to share the experience?
To most people going to the cinema to watch a funeral would seem in bad taste. A cinema is supposed to be a place of fun and entertainment, not somewhere to say our final goodbyes to a loved one. I suspect most people would overcome this taste issue if meant saying goodbye with friends and family rather than sat at home watching it on a laptop or phone.
To help generate further income cinemas could also host mini wakes or receptions after the main event.
My office window overlooks a very popular pub and restaurant that had to close its door because of the Coronavirus. They have worked tirelessly to repurpose themselves to keep themselves afloat. They have allowed others to use their space for non-hospitality uses, and they have started a very popular food delivery service.
I have seen many other businesses pivot in similar ways and rescue themselves from collapse, but I have not seen as much ingenuity from the cinema sector.
Cinemas would appear to be in a good position to offer new services during the pandemic. None of these services will make their owners rich, but it would help protect some jobs and to keep the lights on for longer.
Coronavirus is not going away anytime soon, and cinemas can’t mothball themselves indefinitely. They will need to pivot at some point or pay the ultimate place.