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Return of movie mania: Silver screen set to hog the limelight once again

A rebirth of the film industry is imminent with nearly 100 films ready for release in the next four months and the Maharashtra government allowing cinemas to reopen after October 22.

Maharashtra is key for the Hindi film business (32 of the 100 are Hindi) because it accounts for between 27 and 30 per cent of its all-India box office collections, largely determining the success or failure of a movie.

The state also accounts for a fifth of the country’s 3,000 multiplexes and 400 single screens. Once the cinemas in Maharashtra reopen, it means that nearly 97 per cent of the country’s total movie screens will be open, either with 50 per cent seating restrictions or at full capacity, as in Karnataka and Telangana.

Kamal Gianchandani, president of the Multiplex Association of India and chief executive officer of PVR Pictures, sounded pleased.

“What we will see is a 25 per cent increase in the number of releases each week (for Hindi and regional movies) for the next four months, compared to pre-Covid-19 times. There will be at least one movie with blockbuster potential every two weeks in Hindi. This is unprecedented,” said Gianchandani.

According to Hong Kong-based Media Partners Asia (MPA) which tracks the entertainment industry, next year will see double the usual number (5 or 6) of tentpole movies, i.e. about one every month.

In 2020, box office collections were a dismal Rs 2,000 crore (all movies including Hindi) as movie halls were closed from March. In 2021, however, despite the fact that cinemas have remained closed for five to six months, the releases in the next three months will help box office collections to hit around Rs 6,000 crore, according to MPA.

“Many of these films have been waiting for theatrical release over the last 18-24 months. The opening up of theatres is well-timed to coincide with the festival season and give a big push. We expect box office collections to reach 2019 levels when they stood at Rs 10,000 crore,” said Mihir Shah, MPA vice president.

Gianchandani’s projections are more conservative. He thinks that 2021 will be around 35-40 per cent of 2019 box office collections and the figure will rise to around 50 per cent of 2019 levels next year.

But multiplex owners are thinking of hiking ticket prices to meet, not the losses they have incurred, but the cost of inflation.

With over 1000 screens in Maharashtra set to fling open their doors, production houses in Bollywood, enthused by the news, are already announcing the launch dates for their films.

Yash Raj Films has announced four movies for 2021 and early 2022 which include Jayeshbhai Jordaar with Ranveer Singh, Prithviraj with Akshay Kumar, Shamshera with Ranbir Kapoor, and Bunty aur Babli 2 with Rani Mukerji and Saif Ali Khan.

Reliance Entertainment says it will release two big films: Sooryavanshi with Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif during Diwali, and the much-awaited 83 starring Ranveer Singh on India’s victory in the 1983 Cricket World Cup at Christmas. Business Standard

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