Producers still hesitant to announce release dates: Experts on probable BO clashes in second half of 2021

Updated on Jun 24, 2021 06:29 PM IST  |  204.8K
   
Experts on probable BO clashes in second half of 2021 (Pic Credit: Milap Zaveri / Instagram)
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With actors getting back on shoots and new film and release date announcements made, the film industry seems to be getting back on track. While films like GoodBye and Maharaja recently went on floors, Akshay Kumar announced the theatrical release date of Bell Bottom, and Kartik Aaryan unveiled a new film Satyanarayan Ki Katha backed by Sajid Nadiadwala today. Reportedly a lot many release date announcements are expected in the next few days. So Pinkvilla got in touch with a few trade experts to understand if one should expect many big clashes at the box office in the second half of 2021. 

In an exclusive conversation with Pinkvilla, exhibitor and trade expert Akshaye Rathi says that the number of films waiting for a theatrical release is significantly high, and ultimately there are only 52 weeks in a year. “So it’s going to be impossible to avoid clashes. But one thing that I personally hope for is that as an industry, we really need to get into a huddle and try and see if we can get films that cater to very different kinds of audiences on the same Fridays. For instance, Satyameva Jayate 2 is a film that’s strictly for the mass audience, and then lets say something like A Quiet Place 2. The same people mostly don’t go to watch both the films. So Satyameva Jayate 2 will be for a very massy, single screen, Tier 2, Tier 3 audience, and for A Quiet Place 2 - it will be more urban, multiplex or the youth audience that will be going for it,” suggests Akshaye. 

So to have a variety of content that caters to very different audience bases on the same Friday is in fact a very good thing. Because then on any given Friday, you are catering to every section of the social strata
Akshaye Rathi

He further adds, “So to have a variety of content that caters to very different audience bases on the same Friday is in fact a very good thing. Because then on any given Friday, you are catering to every section of the social strata. I really hope that as an industry we can get into a huddle and try to make that happen.”

However, film analyst and distributor Raj Bansal says that he isn’t expecting many clashes at the box office immediately. “I doubt it, because there is still a fear of the third wave. So very brave and bold producers would announce and come out with a release, but certain conservative and not so bold producers may not announce, and might miss the bus if the third wave doesn’t come. But will the third wave hit? That’s a million dollar question. So I don’t see any clashes before Diwali in any case. However, having said that, (whenever it happens) we will be able to take these clashes, because of the public wanting to get entertainment and coming back to theatres. So even if two films in a week clash, we will be able to absorb that,” states Bansal, adding that producers for now are hesitant to announce any release dates. 

I haven’t heard anyone talking in superlative terms, or being very happy, excited or charged. They still have fears of the third wave, and the second wave has really hit us hard
Raj Bansal

“I haven’t heard anyone talking in superlative terms, or being very happy, excited or charged. They still have fears of the third wave, and the second wave has really hit us hard. KGF 2 will come solo, Satyameva Jayate 2 they have announced for August 15 - though am not sure if they will come on that date or not. RRR is October, and everyone has their hopes on Sooryavanshi. But Sooryavanshi I don’t foresee before September in any case,” informs Bansal. He anticipates that not many filmmakers will start announcing their release dates before October. 

Furthermore, as far as releases and clashes are concerned, producer and trade expert Girish Johar says everything will depend on how the audience reacts. “By that I don’t only mean to the content, but to the actual scenario of what is happening around them. It all depends on how fast we do the vaccination, depending on which the state governments will open up the theatres, and then it also depends on the third wave which everyone is saying is probably on the cards. So in a nutshell, it all depends on how the audiences feel. Another thing that will help is Hollywood releases. Hollywood has opened up quite well in the US, UK and Europe, and I think they will also be gearing up to release in India, which might help the producers here to decide on the release basis the audience reaction to the Hollywood films. One thing is for sure, there was a lot of hearsay stating that with the onset of OTT the cinemas will not be there, but there is no two ways about the fact that cinemas are here to stay and will always be,” says Johar. 

There was a lot of hearsay stating that with the onset of OTT the cinemas will not be there, but there is no two ways about the fact that cinemas are here to stay and will always be
Girish Johar

Meanwhile, Rathi also throws light on the present situation of cinema halls. “Well the situation of the cinema is of course slightly cash-strapped. Last one and a half year has been difficult in many states, and there has been absolutely no relief from the state governments, either in the context of the property tax or the electricity charges, so it has been pretty hard. A lot of people have also lost employment because the sector couldn’t function for so long. So I hope, especially the state governments, across the country can follow Gujarat’s lead where they had offered one year waiver on property tax, waiver on minimum demand charges of electricity for one year, and a couple of other reliefs for cinemas and other sectors that have suffered the most during pandemic. About the reopening of cinema halls, I think somewhere around mid July to early August is when I anticipate. Because to open cinemas with no clarity on what releases are happening every Friday, doesn’t make sense. First we need to be sure that there are enough films that are gearing up for a release, and then a majority of cinemas would open up,” he signs off.  

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