Reliance Entertainment CEO Shibasish Sarkar: Hoping things will be normal in five months

Updated: Jul 01, 2020, 08:19 IST | Uma Ramasubramanian | Mumbai

Even as theatres have yet to open, Akshay Kumar's Sooryavanshi, Ranveer Singh's 83 announced as Diwali and Christmas offerings respectively; Reliance Entertainment CEO discusses how festival releases are a possibility.

Ranveer Singh in 83 and Akshay Kumar in Sooryavanshi
Ranveer Singh in 83 and Akshay Kumar in Sooryavanshi

At the outset, the makers of Sooryavanshi and 83 had stated that the films would not bypass a theatrical release even as a cloud of uncertainty hung over the reopening of cinemas. Now, Reliance Entertainment has announced that the Akshay Kumar-led cop caper and Ranveer Singh-fronted sports drama will hit the screens on Diwali and Christmas 2020 respectively. The announcement comes at a time when theatres in India are a long way from throwing their doors open.

"We are committed to releasing the two films in theatres first. We are hoping that the situation will be normal in the next five months. If things are not under control by then, we will take a call at the time. As and when the government and exhibitors open cinema halls, the films will release," asserts Shibasish Sarkar, chief executive officer, Reliance Entertainment group. While Sooryavanshi was originally slated for a Gudi Padwa release, Kabir Khan's 1983 cricket World Cup drama was to hit screens on April 10.

Shibashish Sarkar
Shibashish Sarkar

Considering international markets are crucial to the success of such big-ticket ventures, Sarkar is happy to note that cinemas across the world are opening, albeit gradually. "For Hindi films, North America and the Middle East account for 70 to 75 per cent of the [overseas] business. While New Zealand, Fiji and the Gulf countries have opened up, Canada and some European countries are expected to follow suit. The situation in the US has aggravated in the past 10 days, but five months down the line, I am hoping that the countries will be active."

While exhibitors are apprehensive that footfalls may be drastically low when theatres reopen, Sarkar believes that the charm of the big screen will lure the audience.

He argues, "Alive, which released in South Korea this week, has witnessed one million footfalls so far." Sarkar indicates that the practice of re-releasing popular Bollywood films to attract audiences may be replicated in India. "If exhibitors want any of our films for a re-release, we will provide it to them."

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