Home / News / India /  Regional cinema lines up movie calendar for 2021

New Delhi: Buoyed by the success of Tamil film Master, regional language films are fast lining up releases for the first quarter of 2021 and beyond to take advantage of the pent-up demand in their native states.

Audiences in West Bengal and the five southern states have already demonstrated keen enthusiasm to go to cinemas despite covid fears which explains why many of them may have a new film to look forward to in theatres almost every week, just like pre-covid times.

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The Malayalam language line-up includes big star vehicles including Mammootty’s The Priest and Mohanlal’s Marakkar besides medium-budget offerings like Operation Java, Varthamanam and others. Telugu superstars Pawan Kalyan, Chiranjeevi, Prabhas and Allu Arjun are not too far behind, having scheduled their films Vakeel Saab, Acharya, Radhe Shyam and Pushpa, one for each month starting April, going as far ahead as October with Baahubali director SS Rajamouli’s new film RRR. Zee Studios has lined up a Punjabi film titled Puaada for March. Theatre owners and trade experts say many of these producers only needed a push like Master to know audiences are coming back to cinemas and recovery is now on its way.

“After the success of Master, there are movies lined up across languages, particularly Tamil and Telugu. Having witnessed houseful shows in our theatres after more than nine months, one can say there is a definite eagerness to view films (in cinemas)," Devang Sampat, deputy CEO, Cinepolis India said.

People have come out to watch movies in cinemas that assured them of strong adherence to safety and hygiene protocols and the roll out of the vaccination drive would help the industry even further, Gautam Dutta, chief executive officer at PVR Cinemas said. “With a great movie-line up in 2021 covering multiple languages, consumers can look forward to an extremely vibrant year of movie entertainment keeping them enthralled throughout," Dutta added.

“Producers and distributors in southern India have shown real guts in going ahead with the release of big-ticket films like Master," Amit Sharma, chief executive officer at Miraj Cinemas agreed. The latest guidelines by the ministry of home affairs to extend seating limits will definitely help Bollywood producers catch up with release dates too, trade experts say. So far, it has remained a chicken-and-egg situation with the 50% cap on occupancy restricting Bollywood filmmakers from locking dates for the pan-India release of Hindi films and audiences not really venturing out for lack of compelling Hindi language content on offer.

“While the industry in south India has taken the lead in releasing fresh content at a time that Bollywood has not re-started, and have performed phenomenally well, there still exists the limitation of linguistic reach. Hence, despite titles like Master being dubbed in Hindi, the void of a Bollywood blockbuster is tough to fill," Shirish Handa, chief business development officer, INOX Leisure Ltd said.

Even though the opportunity for south and other regional content in terms of better showcasing exists, the actual numbers are quite low in the national context. To be sure, Master only made 4.25 crore in the Hindi circuits in its first week as compared to 78 crore in Tamil Nadu and 22 crore in the Nizam and Andhra Pradesh region.

“The situation is a win-win for all stakeholders, as theatres get content, which is new and attractive, with better programming flexibility for us, while also enhancing revenues for producers, and therefore more equity for the movie. In the current context, the southern region is definitely bouncing back faster, but it is a matter of time before the entire country catches up too, with releases of Hindi films,’ Handa added.

Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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