Home >News >India >Cinemas struggle with content, lean on old hits in first phase of reopening
Cinema theatres are hoping they will be allowed to reopen when the Indian government announces the next phase of its unlocking strategy at the end of August
Cinema theatres are hoping they will be allowed to reopen when the Indian government announces the next phase of its unlocking strategy at the end of August

Cinemas struggle with content, lean on old hits in first phase of reopening

  • Just as Bollywood doesn’t see value in releasing new films immediately, Hollywood too has pushed several titles out of the release calendar this year. It is considering only the second half of next year and beyond to woo audiences back

NEW DELHI: For India's movie theatres, reopening, though welcome, comes with its own set of challenges. Battling lack of new offerings, cinema owners, apart from those in West Bengal, which will see fresh releases in Bangla for Durga Puja, are hesitatingly making do with older hits like Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, Thappad, Good Newwz, Housefull 4, Chhichhore, Dream Girl to restart business this weekend.

Just as Bollywood doesn’t see value in releasing new films immediately, Hollywood too has pushed several titles out of the release calendar this year. It is considering only the second half of next year and beyond, to truly woo audiences back. Warner Bros, for instance, has moved superhero film The Batman from April 2021 to March 2022, The Matrix 4 to December 2021 while another superhero film Black Adam does not have a release date now after originally being slated for December 2021.

Universal Pictures too has delayed its science fiction adventure franchise Jurassic World: Dominion to June 2022, from the summer of 2021. Sony Pictures has also shuffled a few of its upcoming releases, such as Escape Room 2, which has been bumped to an undetermined future date in 2021 from its original December 2020 release. The new James Bond film, No Time to Die, expected to bring audiences back in the first phase of reopening, has been pushed from November 2020 to April 2021.

The latest move comes on the back of a spate of delays announced earlier--Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick was pushed from June to December 2020 and then slated for July 2021, while horror flick A Quiet Place Part II will premiere in April 2021 instead of September 2020.

“Top markets for (Christopher Noaln’s) Tenet and (Disney’s) Mulan haven’t performed up to expectations of the makers," film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar tweeted about the only two high-profile Hollywood films to have hit screens in the past few weeks.

“Hollywood, is pretty much, sure of audiences being scared and is moving all major releases to 2021 so 2020 is a wipe out," he added.

The absence of big-ticket Hollywood offerings is not good news for India where local producers are not keen to release new films immediately -- in case they haven't already been acquired by video streaming platforms. In an article for movie portal Film Information, trade analyst Komal Nahta said a lot of cinemas around the country haven’t opened their doors this weekend despite permits from the government due to lack of content.

“Since cinemas haven’t reopened across India and...particularly so in Bombay (Maharashtra) which is the nerve centre of the film industry, no producer has shown inclination to release a new film. Also, multiplexes have refused to screen films which have been premiered on OTT platforms in the last four-and-a-half months," Nahta wrote.

Though they foresee some tough times ahead, some exhibitors are keeping their fingers crossed.

“It’s how you look at it. We were shut for seven months but at least, we’re open now. It will be a challenge to run the show but we shall make whole-hearted efforts," PV Sunil, managing director at Carnival Cinemas said.

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