When the decision to close theatres was taken in March, it seemed like a temporary measure. There was no clarity on when the novel coronavirus threat would get over. Yet, it did not look like the situation would go on for weeks.
Though Bollywood did have a low first quarter with only around Rs 750 crore coming in, it seemed like there would be some sort of recovery in the second quarter. This is when the lockdown until mid-April was announced and this is where the alarm bells were heard loud and clear.
It is now clear that it will be a while before the situation get back to normal. Moreover, with social distancing and public safety being the key, it is safe to assume that theatres would be opened much after the lockdown is lifted.
All of this also means that Bollywood is headed for an uncertain second quarter ahead with no release plans for some of the biggest films that were slated to arrive during this period.
The priority would of course be given to Sooryavanshi and '83 as and when theatres get the clearance to resume operations.
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Promo of the Akshay Kumar-starrer was out just before the coronavirus lockdown and the makers (Rohit Shetty and Karan Johar) would be keeping fingers crossed. Those associated with Ranveer Singh-starrer '83, who had been sharing tidbits and posters of the cricket saga, would be in hunt for the next best release timeline. Producer Sajid Nadiadwala has to actually re-release Tiger Shroff's Baaghi 3 as well.
Rest assured, Varun Dhawan too would have to wait for his reunion with father David Dhawan and producer Vashu Bhagnani as Coolie No. 1 is very unlikely to now hit the screens on May 1. Even if the theatres were to open by then (which is unlikely), the film needs at least a month of promotion and that will not happen. On the other hand, big ticket Eid release Laxmmi Bomb will certainly move ahead as Sooryavanshi needs to arrive before that. Akshay Kumar cannot have two of his films arriving in successive months.
As for Radhe, one waits to see what is in store for the Prabhu Dheva-directed action entertainer. Salman Khan has invariably arrived on Eid and be may still make it to the May 22 release date even if theatres start opening from May 1. After all, that would still give Radhe some good time for promotion, marketing and release.
Of course, all of these are big ifs and buts as eventually all just boils down to how successful the ongoing lockdown turns out to be and whether there would be a need an extension. If that turns out to be the case, expect plans for the entire second quarter to go for a toss.(Joginder Tuteja is a trade expert and film critic. Views are personal)