Production houses have been unable to set up too many shooting schedules and, though a handful of films has gone on the floors, it could be a long time before we see regular Friday releases.
After record revenues of over Rs 4,000 crore in 2019, box office collections for 2020 may barely touch Rs 500 crore. However, with chances of a vaccine by May-June, the pickings for Bollywood could be better in 2021.
As of now, however, there are few releases lined up. Production houses have been unable to set up too many shooting schedules and, though a handful of films has gone on the floors, it could be a long time before we see regular Friday releases. Indeed, the attendance at theatres remains very thin. “The release of films would depend on the kind of audiences that the theatres see. Production has resumed but there’s no pick-up at the box office yet,” Viacom 18Studios COO Ajit Andhare told FE.
Viacom18 Studios has already delayed the release of Aamir Khan-starrer Laal Singh Chaddha by a year and it is now expected to hit the theatres in December 2021. Work on the Taapsee Pannu-led Shabaash Mithu is yet to be completed, Andhare said, but should see a 2021 launch if the shoots and post-production get done on time. Producer Vipul Shah said the pandemic has necessitated a total rejig of the firm’s calendar with a project comprising 12 short films now postponed to 2021.
Shah is, however, hoping his Sanak, for which shooting begins this month, can be screened in mid-2021. He also hopes to begin work on Commando 4 next year. “Two more films are in the works and if all goes well they should go into production soon,” Shah said.
Producer Anand Pandit who opted for an OTT (over-the-top) launch for The Big Bull is in two minds about the release of the thriller Chehre starring Amitabh Bachchan and Emran Hashmi. Saregama India is saving its big-budget Marathi horror comedy Zombivli for the theatres but only once footfalls normalise. “What we are certain of is that it will not be a sub-optimal release, both in terms of theatre occupancy or marketing. Zombivli does look set for a theatrical release as of now but we won’t know until it happens,” vice-president Siddharth Anand Kumar, said.
Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP Movies is working on a crop of 7-8 films of which some could premiere on OTT platforms while two may be shown in the theatres. That would of course depend on whether the audiences are large enough. So far, there are no crowds. Although a Diwali release Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari managed an opening of just about Rs 60-Rs 65 lakh at the box office. Big-budget films Sooryavanshi and 83 that were earlier looking at Diwali and Christmas releases respectively have postponed screenings to 2021 and the makers are understood to be considering the January-March window.
Rakesh Jariwala, partner at EY said the projected box office collection of Rs 200-300 crore for big budget films looking at release is based on a normal occupancy or occupancy under a business-as-usual scenario. Given theatres at present do not have the luxury of increasing ticket prices and the occupancies due to restrictions could only be around 50% levels, those projections may be highly optimistic. Jariwala expects footfalls to bounce back only once normalcy is restored. Exhibitors, however, believe that if the surge in infections subsides (before there is a vaccine), some producers will stay with a theatrical launch. India released about 1,833 films across languages in 2019 led by Hindi movies.