Cinema is far from dead

Industries are being disrupted like never before. The music industry, publishing, banking, media, advertising, travel – have all been radically recreated thanks to technology. Sadly most traditional business in these fields never saw it coming, and were awkwardly caught with their pants down when the tide went out.

If ever there was a good argument for companies to hire full-time trend forecasters and innovators into their ranks of comfortable salaried workers, this phenomenon would be it.

In South Africa a classic example of an industry that has just refused to innovate and as a result, has driven a perfectly good model into the ground, is the good ol’ cinema. It was recently trumpeted that Nu Metro cinemas has been sold to a private equity group, who no doubt will take one last drag of the cigar before crushing it underfoot as an afterthought. But had the management at Nu Metro done their work properly and anticipated the disruption of the global movie industry – they might have had a fighting chance of staying in business and, who knows, maybe even have squeezed out a bit of a profit.

Competition from streaming digital content, monster-sized home cinema products and a basic lack of insight into the designing of an experience worthy of the high prices charged by cinema companies has killed the business.


But that doesn’t mean that people don’t enjoy going out to the cinema. Unbelievably successful companies like Secret Cinema and Future Cinema (who design cinema experiences that are unique and immersive) prove that if you are wanting to take on the world of online in a physical sense – you have to play by different rules…or you will get annihilated. What any digital platform fails at is human interaction and offering a unique experience. Technology can help scale things so that they’re super convenient and cheap, but nothing can beat that experience of physically ‘going to the movies’. Sadly the movie turned into a money making machine and all they ended caring about is scale and the resulting bottom-line.

The cinema is far from dead, but what is dead is the old model of cinema. The same can be said for retail. Technology is capable of replacing millions of jobs and automating just about every functional aspect of running a business these days, what can’t be replicated is authentic stories and experiences that are unique and worth the time to enjoy them. If we had R75 million at hand we would have bought Nu Metro in a heartbeat. It’s a bargain for something that has so much potential in the right hands.

  • haroon

    ” Interesting and very true ” ……