Theatres have reopened but trade looks for 'one pan-India film' to change fortunes
Ever since cinemas reopened in parts of India as part of the unlock process, a few new releases -- including Hollywood films -- have hit the big screen. Trade experts say regular Hollywood popcorn flicks will not help bring the crowds back to theatres, nor will small Bollywood releases. A star-studded pan-India film would do the trick, with good marketing.
The Diwali weekend saw the release of Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari, starring Manoj Bajpayee, Diljit Dosanjh and Fatima Sana Shaikh, the film was the first new Bollywood release following the opening of cinemas after the Covid-19 lockdown. Although the film received a lot of support from the film fraternity, it could not excite the audience much.
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According to a trade source, the comedy film could not even rake in a crore at the box office since its release on November 15.
Among other new releases was the Maisie Williams-starrer, The New Mutants. The horror-thriller superhero film released in India on October 30. It was followed by the Robert De Niro-starrer comedy-drama, The War With Grandpa, which had a theatrical release on November 13. Hollywood film Trolls World Tour, with voices of stars like Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, Ozzy Osbourne, Kunal Nayyar, James Corden, Ron Funches, Kelly Clarkson, Anderson Paak, and Sam Rockwell, hit the screens on November 19.
Trade analyst Girish Johar said all these films performed "below the mark".
"The audience have not come to the theatres either due to the scare factor or maybe they didn't find the content lucrative enough to take the risk. Hollywood films too haven't done well," said Johar, adding that he doubt people will come to theatres for the above mentioned Hollywood films. "They are typical Hollywood popcorn flicks. Maybe people in metro cities would have gone over the weekend, but the Covid cases are rising in Mumbai and Delhi, and audiences are aware of that. They are being cautious. I doubt they would take a risk for these films."
Kunal Sawhney, Senior Vice President, Operations, Carnival Cinemas, shared that "Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari" has done better than the Hollywood films. "We have seen a small growth in footfalls. It started with youngsters, now families are coming in. The number is still low, but we are seeing a gradual increase. Once the content is there, people will come back," said Sawhney, adding, "There has to be good content with good marketing where people are aware that this movie is releasing on this date. Only then will the crowds be back".
Sawhney is hoping that a star-studded Bollywood film like "83" and "Sooryavanshi" can probably make people get out of the comfort of their homes and watch the movies on the big screen.
Not just Bollywood, even the more hyped Hollywood releases have stayed away. Christopher Nolan's Tenet might have opened internationally, but the film is yet to confirm an India release date. On the other hand, the other major film that has been lined up -- Daniel Craig's final James Bond act in No Time To Die -- has been pushed worldwide to 2021.
"Other than Bollywood, once 'Tenet' opens, we should get more crowd. We have queries for the film," said Sawhney.
Nolan's Tenet is also special for Hollywood buffs here because the spy thriller has an India connect. The film, starring Robert Pattinson and John David Washington, also features Dimple Kapadia. Not just that, it was shot in India apart from the US, the UK, Denmark, Estonia, Italy and Norway.
"I think mentally everyone is waiting for January only. I hope we have an upsurge in activities by then," said Johar, who feels that though the footfalls have been low, "one pan-India film would change everything".