I remember how as a child I would look forward to movie nights out in the open, we’d pack a picnic basket full of goodies and enjoy the movie lying down on mats. But sadly the concept of drive in and open air cinemas has slowly died. There could be many reasons; a drive in would require acres of land, and with the rise in the cost of property it probably makes it difficult to maintain one.The opening of so many multiplexes could be another reason. Yet another reason could be because open air cinemas can only be operative at night and who’s going to wait till the sun sets when they have Netflix and Amazon Prime at the click of a finger!
But that thrill of sitting under the open sky full of stars, in the fresh air and watching a movie is next level! AND if you have a beer mug in hand and a SO to cuddle up to, then the experience becomes even more memorable and romantic.Yes, that fun and thrill of sitting in the open and watching a film can never be replaced.
Perhaps that is why Sanchit Gupta, co-founder of Sunset Cinema Club, thought of reviving the culture of movies under the stars and movie buffs including me are so thankful for that! An MBA from IIFT Delhi, Sanchit has now made Sunset Cinema Club his business, literally!
Speaking to Hot Friday Talks, Sanchit said that they started the open air cinema two years back with a small open air screening at an amphitheater in Delhi called Akshara.”That was successful and then we started getting in touch with all the studios for permissions to screen the films and we started planning more films. People started coming up with requests for different films, so we thought that we need to set up this market. The studios were very excited with the whole idea, and we got rights for many classic films.We have even got some Bollywood studios on board now.They are very excited about the outdoor cinema concept.We kept developing the idea, we even organised a Movies and Chill festival which was a big hit in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. Then we realised that there is a definite need for something like this and people are also looking forward to new experiences.It also adds to the culture of the city. We started with Delhi, moved to Mumbai and experimented with Bangalore and Pune,” added Sanchit.
Sunset Cinema Club has expanded their business in not one or two but four cities! Sanchit says, “We are now in four cities; Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi and we plan to expand to more cities and centers. We work with different venues.”
While it looks easy and like a lot of fun, it really is not that easy is not easy because there things like the studio rights, finding the right venue etc.that are involved. “But we have figured it out now that we have been doing it a lot. In Pune we have a massive lawn where we have a huge seating capacity, it’s like a picnic. It’s called SCC Republic. In Delhi it’s the SCC Peepal Tree, which was basically the Akshara amphitheater, which we’ve converted into an open air cinema and we have screenings every Friday to Sunday. In Bangalore we have multiple venues, one is a brewery called153 Biere Street,”informs Sanchit. He tells in terms of finding venues, Mumbai has been the toughest city.
Besides sitting in the open air, what also makes this experience appealing is that people can chill with their beer, food of their choice while watching the film, rather than being stuck with the same old pop corn and samosas. In Pune too they have a good following and now they have just announced their permanent venue in Mumbai called Rooftop Cinema at the Trumpet Sky Lounge. The first screening at the Rooftop Cinema in on Valentine’s Day. “We plan to do many rooftop screenings at Trumpet Sky Lounge, under the brand name Sky Cinemas” adds Sanchit.
The movies are screened at the venues every weekend. Sanchit says, “It’s a place people can come, hang out with friends and chill. Every weekend we have a new theme. For example if the theme is travel then we have films that are related to travel like Eat Pray Love, Darjeeling Limited or Into The Wild etc. We have special weekends like Harry Potter weekend where we screen Harry Potter movies for Potter fans over that weekend.”
They screened a Bollywood film, Andhadhun last month and it was a big hit. When it comes to Bollywood or new films, Sanchit says that they get permission to screen them as soon as the DVDs or digital release happens. They use a high end projector in some venues while in some they use an LED screen.
How about spending your Valentine’s Day watching a movie under the romantic starlit skies?