Delhi’s announcement of cinema closures on December 28 had resulted in the postponement of many upcoming releases, leaving theatres with limited new content.
With Delhi now allowing theatres to reopen from January 28 with 50 percent capacity, exhibitors say that this will set the ball rolling in terms of content.
“Producers have already started announcing content. On February 11, there is Badhaai Do releasing and Gangubai Kathiawadi will hit theatres on February 25. We could get a small to medium budget film release on February 18 as well,” Amit Sharma, managing director and CEO, Miraj Cinemas, told Moneycontrol.
He added that the reopening of cinemas in Delhi is significant in terms of Bollywood releases as Delhi has started contributing 12-15 percent of total box office revenue for Hindi films.
“Delhi is a key market and with theatres closed it meant that many producers were putting off releasing their films. With its opening, we can expect films to again be slated for release,” said Rahul Puri, managing director, Mukta A2 Cinemas, a cinema chain by Mukta Arts, a company founded by veteran filmmaker Subhash Ghai.
Multiplex operator INOX, which has around 48 screens in Delhi and Haryana, is optimistic that following the Delhi announcement content producers will plan their releases which should strengthen the Hindi film content pipeline.
“We are bullish about 2022 thanks to a great line-up including movies like RRR, Jersey, Prithviraj, Attack, Pathan, Jayeshbhai Jordaar, Bachchan Pandey, Radhe Shyam, K.G.F: Chapter 2, Lal Singh Chaddha, The Batman, Death on the Nile, Avatar 2, Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness and Top Gun 2. We are certain for a great turnaround in the cinema exhibition industry from February 2022 onwards with major releases lined up,” said Rajender Singh Jyala, chief programming officer, INOX Leisure Ltd.
Kamal Gianchandani, president, Multiplex Association of India (MAI) and CEO of PVR Pictures, noted that Delhi’s decision will give the cinema industry the necessary impetus to recover from the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
Multiplex chain PVR has as many as 68 screens in Delhi.
With Delhi allowing theatres to reopen, Miraj Cinemas’ Sharma expects cinemas to reopen in the Faridabad-Gurugram belt where theatres remain shut. “This will have a positive impact on box office numbers,” he said.
Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab along with Maharashtra contribute 40-45 percent to India’s box office business for Hindi films.
Both PVR and INOX had expected faster recovery in the third phase of reopening. INOX’s CEO Alok Tandon in a recent interview to Moneycontrol had said that by mid-February to early March, everything would be up and running for cinemas.
While reopening in Delhi is a big relief for exhibitors, they expect state governments to remove capacity restrictions.
“The 50 percent cap (in theatres of Delhi) is a concern. But we are able to manage now with this as we have done in other states. Hopefully, it will not be long till this restriction is also removed. Night curfew also means a restriction in number of shows,” Puri added.
Gianchandani said that “with cases falling and vaccinations rising, a quick and timely decision by the Delhi government to restore 100 percent seating capacity and removing the night curfew will be the other vital requisites for the revival of the film industry”.