Indian Movie Biz Celebrates Cinemas Returning To Full Capability – .

The global rollout of vaccines has given rise to the definitive belief that this pandemic may come to an end, but it is evident that the recovery process will be gradual and slow. However, India appears to be ahead of the curve.

The country’s virus situation appeared to be spiraling out of control as early as September. Almost 100,000 cases were recorded daily, the highest rate in the world. Flash forward four months and the situation is starkly contrasted – fewer than 10,000 cases were reported on certain days this week, about half the cases in the UK and fewer than some US states.

The reasons for this remarkable recovery are far-reaching and are being studied in depth by the global scientific community. However, a certain level of herd immunity and a broad presence of antibodies are cited as keys. In response, the government is reopening the economy to pre-pandemic levels, including the popular big screen store. Earlier this week, authorities made the remarkable announcement that cinemas would be allowed to be 100% occupied again from February 1st.

Bollywood producer Boney Kapoor on the return of the world’s most productive film company after COVID-19 shutdown

The response to the news was understandably positive. After the theatrical hit of the Tamil action thriller Master, which grossed $ 26 million in the country – and that with only 50% capacity in theaters – before it went to Amazon Prime, the mood in India was already quite buoyant. Now the country’s top producers are announcing . that they are seizing the chance to host their films for theatrical arcs in the coming months.

“I think good times could be around soon,” predicts Boney Kapoor, the prolific producer. “It’s definitely a very positive step [cinemas returning to full capacity] and gave us hope. “

“I hope that the exhibitors take all safety factors into account,” he warns. While the auditoriums may be full again, various other measures remain in place, e.g. B. the distance outside the projection rooms, where face covering is mandatory.

“Vakeel Saab”
Boney Kapoor

Kapoor is now introducing its Telegu thriller Vakeel Saab, the latest remake of the Hindi hit Pink starring Pawan Kalyan for April 9th. He also has the Tamil action picture Valimai with Ajith Kumar, which is nearing completion before it can be released this summer. and he’s going back into production of his epic Hindi sports film Maidaan, valued at $ 25 million.

As . reported last year, the film was forced to dismantle its 16-acre set due to a pandemic disruption. Kapoor has now rebuilt the site and is preparing for the completion of the film that will get professional soccer players from around the world to shoot compelling sports scenes (Visa allowed). It’s currently dated October 15, 2021, but since Baahubali director SS Rajamouli has just dated his upcoming epic RRR for the same slot, there will likely be some postponements.

Other high profile titles to be released now include the Hindi action film Sooryavanshi, which production company Reliance Entertainment has announced that they are considering a release following the recent positive news in the last week of March. The company also has the ’83 biographical sports drama about the country’s triumph at this year’s World Cricket Championship on the scene, and looks ahead to the first week of June.

“This is very positive news,” said Shibasish Sarkar, CEO of Reliance. “Society has, by and large, opened up. Restaurants, shopping malls, markets, offices – all now work under normal conditions. We believe that spectacular films like Sooryavanshi and ’83 will bring audiences back to theaters. “

For Hindi producer Yash Raj Films, the company has five lively titles on its schedule in 2021: the thriller Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar with Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra; Comedy Bunty aur Babli 2; Action picture Shamshera; Comedy Jayeshbhai Jordaar; and the historical film Prithviraj. Neither of these films are out of date, but the company says it is now exploring the calendar.

The mood on the exhibition side is understandably lively.

“The government has done an excellent job controlling the Covid cases in India. This is particularly noticeable in terms of population, ”says Devang Sampat, CEO of the Indian wing of global exhibitor Cinepolis.

“Going to the movies is very safe,” he claims. “We worked with the government throughout this process to show them the precautions we are taking. Our number one priority is the safety of the people who come to the cinema and the people we employ. “

He said the industry “suffered a lot” during this period, with “huge losses” incurred over the past nine months.

“I can’t divide the numbers, but it was a painful time. However, the local shopping center owners have given us tremendous support and our staff have stood by us. Everyone took part, ”he adds. “With Master, our cinemas were 50% sold out, which gave the exhibitors great confidence that people were really looking forward to going back to the cinema.”


Reliance Entertainment

“Now is a good time to get back to normal. The producers are thinking about releasing their films, most of them stick with their films [during the closures], “he adds.

As we reported last year, the streaming boom in India reached a fever in 2020 as the closure of the cinema threw numerous large-ticket publications on the shelves for dust. Amazon and Netflix both made high profile direct-to-VoD purchases that made headlines, but Sampat points out that this was only a small part of the bigger picture.

“We publish 1,100 titles every year. They talk about more than 20 new pieces of content every week,” says Sampat. He estimates that less than 10% of films destined for the cinema went straight online last year, meaning the vast majority were withheld because of their big screen opportunity in 2021. “In an unprecedented situation, there will be exceptions. I don’t blame the producers [who sold films to streamers]Everyone has to look at their own business model, ”he adds.

Sampat says the majority of films withheld prove that “producers believe in cinema” and he is now optimistic that his business will recover this year. He believes that VOD and theater in India will live together harmoniously in the future.

“After the introduction of the OTT platforms, film admissions actually increased,” says Sampat. “People understand that content has its own space. India is a very populous country and there is space for business for OOT platforms and cinemas. “

“I still believe that cinema is made for movie theaters,” adds Kapoor. “Films are meant for the big screen. But new inventions cannot be stopped. The business with OTT platforms offers many an opportunity and wins eyeballs. That’s good, constructive. But it’s a joy to enjoy a movie with a full audience, with everyone responding to the situation. Laugh, clap – that’s what you get in an auditorium. The thrill of enjoying it with other people can only be felt in a movie theater. “

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