Business

Hollywood has postponed the release of new films in India, causing concern among Indian movie theatres

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Local producers are more optimistic about regaining audiences now that the government has allowed 100% occupancy in theatres, and they will announce release dates that could fill in any gaps left by Hollywood’s delays.

A number of major Hollywood studios have agreed to delay the release of their big tent-pole films, a step that could complicate things for Indian theatres, which have been struggling to entice viewers back to the theatres due to a lack of local material.

James Bond’s new adventure, No Time to Die, was postponed from its initial April 2 release date to October 8. Nobody, a Universal Pictures action thriller, has been rescheduled from February 26 to April 2, while Peter Rabbit 2, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Cinderella have all been rescheduled by Sony Pictures.

“Because the film (No Time to Die) has a vast budget of about $200 million, it depends on significant global ticket sales to break even. “At a time when most movie theatres are closed and the few that remain open are running at a reduced capacity, that’s virtually impossible to achieve,” according to a Variety article.

Of course, this does not bode well for Indian theatre operators.

“These delays are certainly leading to the content lag, and the situation is pretty dire right now,” said Akshaye Rathi, an independent distributor and exhibitor. On the other hand, he pointed out that a few months from now, in the summer, many too many films would be competing for theatre space, adding to the clutter and making it impossible to manage. Trade analysts assume that if a film is released immediately, it would receive two or three times the amount of publicity it would receive in normal circumstances.

“We cannot ignore the effect of any movie being pushed back, as the Indian cinema exhibition industry desperately needs new and high-quality content. On a more optimistic note, the delay demonstrates the producer’s commitment to a theatrical release, assuring us that the film will be released at some stage, and it bodes well for the future, if not the present,” Rajender Singh Jyala, chief programming officer – INOX Leisure Ltd, said.

Local producers are more optimistic about regaining audiences now that the government has permitted 100 percent occupancy in theatres, and will announce release dates that may fill in any holes generated by the delay of Hollywood releases, according to Jyala.

Any of these films, according to Kunal Sawhney, senior vice-president of Carnival Cinemas, can be moved back to earlier dates because the content is ready for showcasing and most publicity and advertisement takes place solely on social media.

“Rising infections in the United States and Europe continue to be a source of concern for the entire film and television industry. The box office prospects of the Hollywood films that have been postponed, however, will not be affected. There is a huge pent-up demand for Hollywood films in India, and once the regular theatrical release schedule resumes, we will see a surge in demand at the cinemas,” said Kamal Gianchandani, CEO of PVR Pictures. He also noted that the ongoing vaccination drive in various countries, including India, is a huge positive for the industry, and that the recent theatrical success of Master is a valid example.


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