Covid: Happy ending still eludes Bollywood

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on March 29, 2021

‘It’s very difficult for big budget films to release with 50% seating capacity in theatres’   -  PTI

Lockdown and night curfew may hit big budget films slated for release in April

The fresh wave of Covid-19 and the lockdown and night curfews in many parts of the country are likely to impact the release of big budget Bollywood films even as regional movies, especially from the South, are seeing a slew of theatrical releases starting from April.

Over the last few weeks, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat have been imposing several restrictions including night curfews amid a spike in the number of fresh coronavirus cases. Last week, the Maharashtra government also restricted seating capacity in theatres to 50 per cent.

“It’s very difficult for big budget films to release with 50 per cent seating capacity in theatres. Even if they do, it is difficult to say how it will perform at the box office because footfalls in theatre are very less and people are scared to go to theatre, especially when there is a second wave coming in,” said Gaurav Garg, Head of Research at CapitalVia Global Research.

Film exhibitors across the country are pinning big hopes on Akshay Kumar’s much-awaited Sooryanvanshi, which will hit the big screens on April 30 after a delay of for more than a year.

Industry experts and film trade analysts, however, caution that the release of Sooryanvanshi and Salman Khan’s Radhe (scheduled for May 13) could be impacted if the fresh spike in infections remains unabated.

“April and May will also be very tough for the cinema industry as it will face competition from IPL; so the industry will see some recovery only after that,” Garg said.

The Rani Mukerji andSaif Ali Khan starrer Bunty Aur Babli 2, the Hindi version of Rana Daggubati’s multilingual Haathi Mere Saathi and Punjabi movie Pauuda have all postponed their release dates.

On the other hand, regional movies from the South are poised for a series of theatrical releases starting from April.

Big-ticket films in South

Karthi’s Sulthan (April 2), Dhanush’s Karnan (April 9) and Kangana Ranaut’s Thalaivi (April 23) are some of the prominent Tamil films that will hit the big screens in April, while Nagarjuna Akkineni’s Wild Dog in Telugu will release on April 2.

The Malayalam industry also witnessed back-to-back release of superstar Mammootty’s The Priest (March 11) and One (March 26).

“It’s good for the business that the release schedule is coming back to usual. The recent success of Godzilla vs. Kong has proved that there is a tremendous amount of affinity for good films,” said Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures.

Published on March 28, 2021

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