India’s Cinemas Bank On The South To Kick-Start Recovery

India’s Cinemas Bank On The South To Kick-Start Recovery

Looking to win back viewers addicted to Netflix or Amazon Prime Video during the pandemic as cinemas were shut, India’s multiplexes and single-screen theatres are banking on south-Indian movie releases to kick-start a meaningful recovery.

“It’s regional films, Tamil, Telugu, Bangla, that are making big money post lockdown. For such movies, their respective state collections are very high compared with Bollywood or Hollywood where entire India box office collections make a difference,” said Kunal Sawhney, senior vice president of operations at Carnival Cinemas, the operator of 450 screens covering more than 100 cities across 20 states.

“Regional movies have proved that if there is fresh content, patrons will come back to cinemas and it gives confidence to Bollywood,” he told BloombergQuint. “With ‘Master’ releasing in Hindi – it will be a big example for forthcoming releases.”

Telugu movies ‘Krack’, ‘Red’ and ‘Alludu Adhurs’ and the Tamil flick ‘Master’ are ready for release during the Makara Sankranti/Pongal festival weekend (Jan. 14-17), according to BookMyShow.com’s website. The movies have generated much interest prior to their release.

The teaser of the much-delayed ‘Master’, starring Tamil superstar Vijay, Vijay Sethupathi and Malavika Mohanan, has clocked 51 million views on YouTube in under two months, while ‘Krack’, with Ravi Teja and Shruti Haasan in the lead, has registered around 11 million views till date.

Cinemas in India, the world’s most prolific movie producer, remained shut for more than six months because of Covid-19 restrictions before they were allowed to reopen with half the capacity. Yet, only around 3,200 screens of the 8,000-odd screens across India have resumed business, according to a trade executive who didn’t want to be identified out of business concerns. In the absence of new content, the person said, screens want to avoid bleeding on operating expenses.

At least two new Tamil and Hindi movies each and one Kannada film have released in the theatres since lockdown restrictions were lifted, according to details on BookMyShow’s website. Cinemas have sold 7 lakh tickets so far, it said.

Yet, response for Bollywood movies was tepid, while the south Indian movies fared better. ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’ collected around Rs 2.3 crore in the first week and ‘Indoo Ki Jawani’ collected Rs 1.52 crore worldwide, according to data by Bollywood Hungama. By comparison, according to the movie tracker South FDFS, ‘Biskoth’ earned Rs 5.5 crore worldwide. Bloomberg Quint

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