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Vishnu Vardhan Induri: People unwilling to return to theatres

Updated on: 18 September,2021 07:25 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Mohar Basu , Uma Ramasubramanian |

Despite recent offerings faring well, filmmakers unwilling to release movies in limited theatres; Hollywood offerings make the most of lack of competition

Vishnu Vardhan Induri: People unwilling to return to theatres

Bell Bottom

Not too long ago, Akshay Kumar was hailed by industry folk for leading from the front and facilitating a theatrical release of his film, Bell Bottom. However, despite a notable collection of Rs 30-crore — collected from theatres across India, where a 50 per cent occupancy clause was in place — the development hasn’t encouraged other filmmakers to follow suit.

Mid-day has it that the recently released offerings have been unable to recover costs. Kumar’s Bell Bottom, which also began airing on Amazon Prime Video this week, earned about Rs 30-crore, but trade pundit Atul Mohan puts the predicted figure of a pre-pandemic film of this nature at Rs 150-crore. “Roughly, 30 per cent of the national box office [collection] comes from Maharashtra, 20 per cent of which comes from Mumbai and Thane alone. Mumbai is where buzz around a film is generated. Because the centre is shut, exhibitors are not particularly interested in [showcasing] films. Bell Bottom, Chehrein and Thalaivi are doing [well], but the industry isn’t picking up pace. Among the factors contributing to this failure are the ticket prices, which are too high for a post-pandemic era. There’s also a great deal of fear among viewers, who are willing to wait for an OTT release that follows within weeks.”

When establishing how the film’s subject affects its collection, Kangana Ranaut’s Thalaivi serves as an ideal case in point. The film’s primary market was South India. Rs 3.85 crores of the Rs 5 crores generated by the film, he says, came from this market.  Producer Vishnu Vardhan Induri says that while he didn’t expect promising collections from a theatrical release, the film warranted a big-screen airing. “People are unwilling to return to theatres. Our focus was still trained on the digital and satellite platforms. Kangana has a huge fan base, and many people would have watched it, had it aired in Mumbai. We were not expecting great collections. We knew it was not going to screen in multiplexes.”

The development has taken a toll on Bollywood. With news of a third wave intensifying, and city cases averaging 500 a day, cinema halls are not expected to open soon. Trade sources set the expected date in November, ahead of Diwali. Trade analyst Komal Nahata says, “Filmmakers don’t want their films to release unless they can in Maharashtra. There is no Hindi film screening in the forthcoming fortnight.” Hollywood flicks, in the interim, are making the most of the lack of competition. Daniel Craig’s much-awaited No Time to Die is set to hit screens on October 8, with The Boss Baby: Family Business, House of Gucci and Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City following in the weeks that will follow. It is believed that the first Hindi film will be Tadap, in December.

Rs 30 CR
Amount Bell Bottom earned amid 50% theatre occupancy

Rs 150 CR
Amount analysts predict it would have earned in a pre-pandemic world

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