The Madhya Pradesh government has allowed cinema halls to operate at 50% capacity, following close on the heels of states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
To be sure, trade experts are projecting a grim picture for the Indian movie business on the back of permanent shutdown of several movie theatres across the country, audiences remaining wary of returning to cinemas and most big-ticket films unlikely to release soon even after restrictions are eased post the second covid wave.
This could result in a loss of ₹3,000-4,000 crore for Bollywood this year alone, they say. The Indian film business slumped by 75% in 2020 according to a recent PwC report. While the January to March quarter of 2021 barely managed box office earnings of ₹50 crore, the second quarter has been a complete washout with the first movie release, Akshay Kumar’s Bellbottom, now scheduled for the end of July. The release of the crime thriller, however, remains uncertain given that key territories like Delhi and Maharashtra are yet to grant reopening permits.
Many analysts also point out that just like big filmmakers were hesitant about bringing expensive star vehicles to cinemas for months after reopening permits came in last October, they are likely to take it slow this time as well, with different seating capacities and state regulations adding to the chaos. Moreover, just like last year, the big summer season that sees tent-pole titles from both Hollywood and Bollywood hitting screens and is a coveted period thanks to school vacations, has been wiped out.
However, good news comes from the fact that several Bollywood movies, such as Sooryavanshi, ‘83, Atrangi Re, Jayeshbhai Jordaar, Prithviraj, Jersey, Lal Singh Chaddha, Satyameva Jayate, Gangubai Kathiawadi, Bachchan Pandey, Pathan, and Cirkus are waiting it out for theatrical release. Live Mint