NEW DELHI: The worldwide release of big Hollywood flicks has now been pushed to August, a move the Indian audience would cheer, given there is no clarity here yet around reopening of theatres. Warner Bros has delayed Christopher Nolan’s Tenet a second time. It will now be released on 12 August.
Disney too has delayed the theatrical release of its action drama Mulan again and is now slated for 21 August launch. Warner has also delayed the re-release of Nolan’s sci-fi blockbuster Inception, in honour of its 10th anniversary, from 10 July to 31 July.
“With the malls having reopened, we were expecting some sort of government direction in June," said Mohan Umrotkar, chief executive officer, Carnival Cinemas, adding it is unfortunate that didn’t happen. Most theatre owners are now expecting some sort of an announcement by the first or second week of July after which they say they need about seven to ten days to resume operations with full sanitization and safety measures in place.
Film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar pointed out that while several cinemas in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the UAE have reopened, Hollywood is still missing a chunk of the business from Asia, particularly China and India. The absence of these markets means a 25%-30% dent in box office.
“India is definitely one of the top 10 Hollywood markets across the world and it is the metros like Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi and Gurugram with the highest number of cases that bring in most returns," Johar added.
In 2019, Hollywood, with a combination of spectacular superhero, smaller budget, softer films, notched up box office collections of nearly Rs1,225 crore in India, several notches above the Rs900 crore-Rs950 crore and the Rs800 crore-850 crore earned by it in the country in 2018 and 2017 respectively. Marvel’s superhero flick ‘Avengers: Endgame’ led the game, emerging as the highest Hollywood grosser of all time, at Rs373.22 crore. Disney’s animated musical The Lion King was next in line, at Rs158.71 crore.
Tenet, a film that Nolan has maintained is meant for the big screen, has not just shot parts in India but also features Bollywood actor Dimple Kapadia. Its 12 August release date is in line with the Independence Day weekend Indian exhibitors are eyeing to bounce back to business, if all goes well.
“The 15 August week is one big date," Carnival’s Umrotkar said, adding if permissions come in by mid-July, it would give any big film a good time of two to three weeks to carry out a marketing campaign and create enough buzz to arrive in theatres by August.