French socially distanced cinema concept eyes Pakistan 

Conceived pre-pandemic, the concept can be used to bring groups of cinema-goers together in a socially distanced manner

SINGAPORE: Identifying Pakistan as a key market, a socially distanced cinema viewing concept from France has begun discussions with multiplexes and cinema operators in the country to chart an expansion plan.

A vertical concept for cinema-goers, Ōma Cinema resembles the Galactic Senate first seen in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. The platform layout creates an intimate atmosphere with a flexible seating arrangement in each “balcony” and projector positioning among special seating “pods”.

Positioned by its creators as a solution to meet the public policymakers and entertainment business owners midway, by design the experience imposes social distancing restrictions for cinema-goers, allowing audiences to get much closer to the screen.

Speaking with Profit, Ōma Cinema co-founder Nicolas Chican said that he is looking forward to building the first Ōma screens with Pakistani partners and always welcome more conversations with potential partners in the region.

“Pakistan had cinema admissions of over 8 million [audiences] and a box office figure of over $28m in 2019 – the last year unhindered by the pandemic,” said Chican. “But it still has a relatively low number of cinema screens per capita, compared to neighboring countries. This indicates a great deal of potential for a flourishing market once cinema doors can reopen, plus opportunities for new developments and existing sites that want to revamp their offering for audiences.”

As of 2018, there are under 200 cinema screens nationwide in Pakistan, with all featuring seating arrangements that would require leaving one seat empty between movie watchers in the COVID-19 environment. That being said, cinemas geared to the masses are open and spectacularly failing to enforce or follow any COVID-19 spread or disinfection countermeasures. Chican said that the Ōma Cinema is a totally flexible theater design meaning that the cinema owners can choose the number of seats in each pod, from 4 to 18 people.

“If we consider the volume of a standard 100-seat cinema, an Ōma Cinema can seat up to 80 people in pod-only format and more than 100 in a mixed format – a combination of stadium seating at the front of the theater and Ōma pods at the back,” he said. “For the moment we are focused on bringing the Ōma experience to audiences that are inside. However, the structure for the ‘pods’ needs to be built from metal, which does make audience mobility easier, compared to a concrete framework. For it to work outside, we’d also have to think about stairs to the rear access of the pods.”

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Babar Khan Javed
Babar Khan Javed
Babar Khan Javed covers the advertising industry and marketing function in Pakistan for Profit. He can be reached on [email protected] with details about media, creative, and digital briefs, future projects, management changes, client wins or losses, and everything in between.
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