Theatres look for Diwali sparkle in post-covid bounceback

A clutch of big-ticket movies are hitting the screens in the Diwali weekend.
A clutch of big-ticket movies are hitting the screens in the Diwali weekend.

Summary

  • For the first Diwali since 2020, cinemas will be operating at full capacity and feature big-budget Hindi films with top stars releasing in theatres to cash in on the festival’s erstwhile appeal.

New Delhi: India’s film business is looking to regain its mojo this Diwali, the first time since the covid pandemic outbreak, thanks to a clutch of big-ticket movies hitting the screens.

Yash Raj Films’ Tiger 3 that is part of its popular Spy Universe releases on Diwali, also a Sunday, in a rare occurrence. According to industry watchers, the movie is expected to earn above 40 crore on day one, with the following week with multiple holidays aiding business further.

While the film could easily manage pan-India traction, the south has two Tamil films releasing too—Japan and Jigarthanda Double X. However, these will not see a release in the north owing to the four-week OTT window norm followed by southern filmmakers. Hollywood film The Marvels too will see a limited release.

For the first Diwali since 2020, cinemas will be operating at full capacity and feature big-budget Hindi films with top stars releasing in theatres to cash in on the festival’s erstwhile appeal. Historically though, films do not release on Diwali day, since most families stay home due to festive engagements and business in cinemas is impacted particularly towards the evening. However, coming close on the heels of Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan that also belongs to YRF’s Spy Universe and had earned 543 crore when it released this January, Tiger 3 is expected to hold strong with word-of-mouth translating into ticket sales over holidays later in the week.

“There is some curiosity around how the Diwali day release will play out for Tiger 3. However, Salman Khan comes with several die-hard fans, plus there are many people who like to celebrate the festival in a simple manner. The fact that there are many holidays in the week following Diwali may work to its advantage," Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, executive director, PVR Inox Ltd said.

Anticipation for Tiger 3 is high primarily due to the immense success of its predecessors in the franchise, Devang Sampat, CEO, Cinepolis India said. “While releasing a movie on a Sunday is somewhat unusual, the combination of a strong film and the festive atmosphere during Diwali will work in Tiger 3’s favour. The appeal of Tiger 3 spans across different regions, from north to south, and from metros to small towns," Sampat said. This Diwali weekend is expected to outshine the three Diwalis post-covid and even rival the pre-covid Diwali weekends in terms of box office business, Sampat added.

In 2021, Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi had managed to secure a 25 crore plus opening, despite capacity restrictions in Maharashtra. However, Diwali releases in the subsequent year, namely Thank God and Ram Setu, fell short of expectations.

This year, with Tiger 3, expectations are high again.

Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer, cinemas, BookMyShow agreed the upcoming Diwali weekend is quite possibly the best one since the pandemic and is expected to be a strong period for the Indian box office. Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi-NCR are leading the charts for advance sales for Tiger 3 on BookMyShow.

“Based on the trends observed during other major festive weekends like Independence Day and Republic Day this year, the upcoming Diwali weekend is also expected to perform well. The Independence Day and Republic Day weekends injected a much-appreciated vitality into the Indian box office, with numerous films achieving commendable collections. These occasions underscored the audience’s eagerness to return to theatres, particularly for high-profile releases like Jailer, OMG 2 and Gadar 2. The success of the Diwali weekend hinges on the content’s appeal to the audience and their subsequent reception," Saksena said.

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