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Multiplexes bet big on Disney India’s movie slate

Disney India announced its movie slate on October 5 which includes Eternals releasing on November 5, 2021.

Other offerings which will hit Indian theatres next year include Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness on March 25, Thor: Love and Thunder on May 6, Light Year on June 17, Wakanda Forever on July 8, Blade on October 7, The Marvels on November 11 and Avatar 2 on December 16.

“Hollywood’s contribution in the overall India box office is increasing and so is their content lineup. In the past, they have released in one year Avengers Endgame, Lion King, Captain Marvel. The Marvel content has a huge fan following in India which translates in strong box office numbers,” INOX Leisure’s Chief Programming Officer, Rajender Singh Jyala, told Moneycontrol.

Rahul Kadbet, Vice President Programming, Carnival Cinemas said that the studio has the potential to touch Rs 1,000 crore box office in India next year with films releasing in multiple languages.

Offerings from Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) such as 2019 release Avengers: Endgame collected over Rs 373 crore and became the highest grossing Hollywood film in India.

“Disney India’s lineup is exciting especially films from MCU. If you look at the recent Hollywood offerings, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a clear winner. The film has done phenomenal business despite certain markets being shut,” said Amit Sharma, MD, Miraj Cinemas.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has collected around Rs 23 crore at the Indian box office.

“The way we look at it is with Maharashtra reopening on October 22, Diwali will be a big release time. Eternals will have lot of takers. Marvel has kept its fan base engaged in the last 20 months with shows. And every quarter they have a big venture. Plus, the most awaited Hollywood sequel is Avatar 2 which is also slated for next year,” added Sharma.

The box office performance of recent titles such as Shang-Chi The Legend of the Ten Rings, Fast and Furious 9 has been robust and this would have given even more confidence to the (Disney India) team to announce the release calendar, said Devang Sampat, CEO, Cinepolis India.

Hollywood already is keeping the cash register ringing with its latest offering No Time To Die, the 25th instalment in the James Bond series performing well at the box office.

“Over the weekend, we had houseful shows,” said Jyala.

Even multiplex player Cinepolis over the weekend saw houseful shows across all its locations, especially in metro cities.

The film which hit theatres on September 30 in three days of its release did a business of Rs 8.50 crore and the number is expected to reach around Rs 12 crore in terms of its first-weekend business.

“With COVID restrictions in terms of cinema hall’s capacity reduced to 50 percent and cinemas remain shut in certain states like Maharastra and Kerala due to COVID-19, the numbers would have been affected a little but it has stood its grounds at the box office. Maharashtra and Kerala opening later this month will add to its box office numbers,” said Kadbet.

With the India box office seeing recovery and a strong Hollywood and Bollywood content lineup, exhibitors are also eying the eight-week OTT (over the top platforms) window from four to six weeks currently.

Due to the coronavirus impact, theatrical releases in India streamed on OTT in six to eight weeks which pre-COVID was eight weeks.

“We are in discussion with all stakeholders. Once the movies start releasing and we come towards normalcy we will be going back to eight weeks. We are in talks with the producers and they are in line with this thought. The window will go back to eight weeks,” said Jyala.

Kadbet concurs. “OTT window will go back to the original 8 weeks hold back period once the COVID situation improves and all states come back to 100 percent occupancy for cinemas across India.”

According to analyst Karan Taurani, Senior Vice-President, Elara Capital, overall revenue for the exhibition sector is expected to revert to 80 percent of pre-COVID in FY23, with a recovery in FY24, which may see revenue moving toward 110-120 percent versus pre-COVID. Money Control

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