Multiplexes expect content pipeline to get back on track from Feb as Delhi govt reopens cinemas

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani | Updated on: Jan 28, 2022
A worker seen spraying disinfectant to sanitize at the Delite Cinema hall, as the cineplex in set to open for public from Monday in New Delhi on Sunday, July 25, 2021

A worker seen spraying disinfectant to sanitize at the Delite Cinema hall, as the cineplex in set to open for public from Monday in New Delhi on Sunday, July 25, 2021

Analysts expect exhibitors to see sharp recovery post-March

With the Delhi government on Thursday giving its nod to cinemas to reopen with occupancies capped at 50 per cent, the multiplex industry is hoping to kickstart the business recovery process and expect film makers to begin looking at key movie releases, getting the content pipeline back on track from February.

On Friday morning, Bhansali Productions announced that Alia Bhatt-starrer Gangubai Kathiawadi (co-produced by Pen Studios) will be released on February 25.

Rajender Singh Jyala, Chief Programming Officer, INOX Leisure Ltd, said, “We are very optimistic that with this much-awaited announcement (reopening of cinemas in Delhi), content producers would also plan their releases, which should strengthen the Hindi film content pipeline in the months to come and usher in better health for the cinema exhibition industry. We are certain of a great turnaround in the cinema exhibition industry from February onwards.”

Devang Sampat, CEO, Cinepolis, added, “We are already seeing producers announcing their release dates right from the second week of February, with cases going down in the past seven days and restrictions getting lifted in several States.”

Delhi is one of the key film territories for Hindi films. Earlier this month, makers of big budget flicks such as Jersey and RRR had deferred their releases due to closure of cinemas in the capital city besides rising cases due to the onset of the third pandemic wave.

Initially scheduled for January 7, S Rajamouli’s RRR is already weighing in on two potential dates and the production house last week said that the movie would either be released on March 18, if all theatres open up to operate at full capacity, or could get released on April 28.

Small and medium budget films

Karan Taurani, Senior Vice-President, Elara Capital, said, “We expect small and medium budget films to start getting released from February and big budget films to start getting released sometimes around April. Territories such as Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh contribute nearly 60-65 per cent to the Hindi movie’s box office collections. We expect to see sharp recovery for exhibitor’s post-March as there is a huge backlog of movies awaiting release and with expectations of restrictions getting further eased in major States.”

Exhibition industry is hopeful that States will begin revoking night curfews and ease occupancy restrictions in the coming weeks.

Kamal Gianchandani, President, Multiplex Association of India said that reopening of cinemas in Delhi will give the cinema industry, the necessary impetus to recover from the impact of the ongoing pandemic. “With cases falling and vaccinations rising, we urge all States governments to allow us to operate without restrictions on seating capacity or the business operating hours for the revival of the industry,” he added.

Film producer and trade analyst, Girish Johar, said, “Delhi was among the only key markets where multiplexes were shut in this third wave and now with restrictions easing and no weekend curfew, things should get back on track in terms of the content pipeline at the macro-level.”

Published on January 28, 2022
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