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NEW DELHI : The reopening of cinemas in Maharashtra from 22 October has reinstilled hope in Bollywood for the upcoming festive quarter,  usually one of the most lucrative periods for film business in India.

All eyes are on Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi that announced a release for Diwali within minutes of Maharashtra government announcement. The festival, however, will see a huge box office clash given that the date had already been locked in for Rajinikanth’s Tamil film Annatthe as well as Marvel’s superhero film Eternals.

 

Other holidays like Gandhi Jayanti and Dussehra will be big for regional movie industries like in the south and West Bengal besides seeing some big-ticket Hollywood titles that could further aid recovery.

 Usually, the last quarter of the year can bring in box office collections of over Rs. 1,000 crore with Diwali alone contributing  200 crore. 

“This decision has steered in a lot of cheer, not just for the entire film industry and its audiences, but also for the employees of the cinema exhibition sector," Alok Tandon, chief executive officer (CEO), INOX Leisure Ltd said. 

“We are confident that with this much-awaited announcement, content producers would plan their releases, which should strengthen the Hindi film pipeline in the months to come," Tandon added. 

Apart from Sooryavanshi that has been locked for Diwali, Yash Raj Films has said that its comedy Bunty Aur Babli 2 will release on 19 November. The studio's big-budget period drama Prithviraj starring Akshay Kumar has been slated for 21 January, 2022, family entertainer Jayeshbhai Jordaar starring Ranveer Singh for 25 February and Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Shamshera for 18 March.

Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures said even keeping the Hindi-speaking market aside, there had been plenty of evidence that people are coming back to cinemas, given the numbers notched up by Punjabi films Qismat 2 and Chal Mera Putt 2 recently, as well as Telugu romantic film Love Story last Friday. 

Starting with the new James Bond film No Time to Die on 1 October, Hollywood has an exciting line-up that will include The Boss Baby: Family Business on 8 October, Venom 2- Let There Be Carnage on 15 October, action adventure drama Dune on 22 October, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story on 10 December and Spider-Man: No Way Home on 17 December, besides Eternals for the Diwali weekend. 

The Bengali, Tamil and Telugu industries too have been actively locking in dates—Bengali film Baazi will release for Durga Puja, as will Tamil crime thriller Doctor, followed by horror comedy Aranmanai 3 the week after that. Reliance Entertainment has locked the Christmas weekend for its sports drama ‘83, which may clash with Telugu star Allu Arjun’s multilingual action flick Pushpa: The Rise- Part 1. Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chadha will release for Valentine’s Day, 2022.

Devang Sampat, chief executive officer, Cinepolis India said  before the pandemic, the festive season used to be one of the best times for the movie exhibition business. With the situation getting better in the country as well as fresh content returning, the festive season will be much better than last year, he said. 

“There is no doubt that there is massive pent-up consumer demand as audiences are waiting to return to cinemas to watch films on the big screen. We witnessed the same during the limited period that cinemas were open between October 2020 and February 2021 during the first Unlock leading to a sharp start to recovery," said Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer, cinemas at ticketing site BookMyShow.

 The company’s projections show that this festive quarter is likely to be better than the recovery seen during Unlock in 2020 and will be at par with 2018 and 2019 provided movies waiting on the side-lines confirm release dates soon. 

Festive periods are always something to look forward to, especially during Diwali followed by Christmas, Rahul Puri, managing director, Mukta Arts and Mukta A2 Cinemas said. “During the festive period in 2018, movies like Andhadhun, Badhaai Ho, Simmba were released, while 2019 saw massy blockbuster titles like War, Good Newwz, Dabangg 3," he said.

“With more people getting vaccinated by at least the second half of the festive period in 2021, where we are positive that producers will announce movies, it will hopefully be a promising period," Puri added. 

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