Just as the industry started celebrating the huge box-office successes of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and Allu Arjun-starrer “Pushpa: Part I”, and the much-awaited release of Ranveer Singh-led Kabir Khan The film, “83”, has dealt a major blow to the Delhi government’s order to shut down theaters and multiplexes on Tuesday.
The Arvind Kejriwal government took this decision after the Kovid-19 positivity rate in the capital increased alarmingly. 0.55 percent on Sunday and 0.68 Percentage on Monday. This was a part of its Yellow Alert drill under the Covid Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
The makers of Shahid Kapoor starrer ‘Jersey’ have already announced that they have postponed the release of the cricket drama, which was scheduled for Friday, December 31.
Now the big question is whether the next big banner – SS Rajamouli’s multilingual “RRRDelhi will also be affected by the government’s decision, although its primary audience is in the two Telugu-speaking states.
Trade analysts say the city of Delhi contributes 7-8 per cent to Bollywood’s revenue, but they fear that what happens in the capital will soon be replicated elsewhere, starting with Gurugram and Noida.
Reacting to the Delhi government’s decision, Kamal Gyanchandani, president of the Multiplex Association of India, said that “it has caused huge uncertainty and may cause irreparable damage to the Indian film industry”. From March 2020 onwards, he insisted, “Indian cinema has been unquestionably the most challenging period in its long history of theatres”.
Emphasizing on the capacity of cinema theaters to adhere to the COVID protocols, Gyanchandani, who is also the CEO of PVR Pictures Ltd, said: “After the permission to reopen, cinemas have started operating safely for the public and staff. has demonstrated its capability. Using advanced ventilation systems, increasing hygiene standards and adhering to safety protocols.
He added: “Nowhere in the world has a single outbreak of Covid-19 been found in cinema.”
Gyanchandani said that instead of shutting down theatres, the Delhi government should consider introducing a “double vaccination requirement” to enter theatres, “as is the case in some other states (including Maharashtra)”.
“Alternatively,” he said, “the 50 per cent seating capacity restriction in cinemas could be reimposed”. He called on the Delhi government to “recognize the unique social, cultural and economic value of the Indian film industry”, and to provide “the support it so desperately needs to survive this unprecedented period”.
Reflecting on the move, Sumit Kadel, an independent film and trade analyst, said: “Delhi is one of the key markets for the film industry, especially for multiplex-oriented films. With the closure of cinemas in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, The imposition of night curfew in states like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh has resulted in cancellation of night shows.”
Kadel said all of this would have a huge negative impact on business, adding that films such as Akshay KumarYRF Films’ “Prithviraj”, which was scheduled to release in February, may get postponed.
Media and Internet research analyst Karan Taurani said: “This will create panic among the makers, who will decide to postpone their release dates again given the uncertainty about timing/restrictions.” Taurani said that “a good film” like “83” was impressed because “the cinema spirit of the audience has taken a big hit in the last 10 days”.
He continued: “This will have an adverse impact on windowing terms (currently four weeks and expected to return to the industry average of six to eight weeks by March 2022), distributor share arrangements and consumer sentiment.”
The occupancy percentage in cinema theatres, in fact, has been 60 to 30 per cent (for big and small films, respectively) of the pre-Covid levels.
Taurani also highlighted how this will affect the ticket price. He added: “PVR and INOX could be down at a price point of 25-30 per cent above their March 2020 lows (PVR/INOX Rs 1,100 and Rs 280 respectively) if the third wave is not expected to be so severe and Horrible. ,
Nonetheless, he cautioned, recovery will be delayed as it is up to the states to revise the occupancy cap and restrictions.