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COVID-19 impact: What Tenet will mean for multiplexes in India whenever they reopen

A lot is riding on Tenet’s release in India as Hollywood content will be the first new content to test waters for the cinema business around Diwali time.

August 30, 2020 / 01:02 PM IST
(Image: Twitter)

(Image: Twitter)

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has been one of the most-awaited film releases so much so that even actor Tom Cruise could not stop himself from going to the theatres to watch the film.

The Hollywood venture which rolled out in international markets in a phased manner since August 26 has so far raked in over $40 million from as many as 40 overseas markets. The film is yet to release in China where the expectations are higher for Tenet’s collections as the box office in China is showing strong signs of revival.

Tenet is scheduled to release in China on September 4.

Tenet’s business in theatres in times of COVID-19 is Hollywood’s big box office test. And, the film’s business in the initial few days is showing that people are back to theatres.

Tenet: a green shoot for Indian theatres

COVID-19 Vaccine

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This is why Karan Taurani, Vice President - Elara Capital, who tracks media and entertainment space closely, said that encouraging box office from Tenet is a green shoot for theatre business in India which did not get a go ahead from the government to reopen in unlock for 4.

According to film trade analysts, Tenet will be the first big film to release in Indian theatres. Tenet’s release will set the stage for other big Bollywood ventures including Akshay Kumar-starrer Sooryavanshi and Ranveer Singh’s 83.

This is why a lot is riding on Tenet’s release in India as theatres still remain shut in the country.

“Expect Diwali release dates of Sooryavanshi to postpone if cinemas were to open somewhere in mid-October as opening will be in a phased manner and cinemas across India are likely to open only 6-8 weeks after first opening. In that case, large Hindi films may move to Christmas release or Republic Day release (next year). Hence, Hollywood content like Tenet and Mulan will be the first new content to test waters for the cinema business around Diwali time,” said Taurani.

Hollywood, Nolan and India box office

It looks like both Hollywood and Nolan will continue their winning streak in India.

If we look at Nolan’s last offerings like Dunkirk, Interstellar, The Dark Knight Rises all have scored strong numbers at the Indian box office.

Makers of the film for Dunkirk’s India release in 2017 had said that the film saw the biggest opening for an English language-only film as the film was not dubbed in regional languages. In the initial three days, the film raked in Rs 17.5 crore.

Even The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 had notched up big numbers in the opening weekend at Rs 25 crore.

Now, if we look at Hollywood, the gross box office collection of top 10 Hollywood films that released in India last year grew to Rs 1,600 crore from Rs 1,220 crore in 2018. And as many as 108 films had released in India last year as compared to 98 in 2018. Avengers: Endgame became the first Hollywood movie to gross Rs 400 crore in the Indian market.

This signals to the importance of Hollywood ventures in India especially now when India lacks film content to run in theatres with many ventures directly releasing on video streaming platforms.

Theatres in India have to wait longer to reopen

With no reopening dates in sight, the fear of remaining big ventures opting for direct OTT route is escalating.

“We believe that cinemas will open in the month of October in unlock 5.0 or somewhere around mid-October with a 50 percent capacity limit. Since a social gathering of 100 people is allowed in the fourth phase of unlock; there is a high likelihood that cinemas too will open next month with 50 percent capping (around 110 people),” he said.

He added that “opening with 25 percent to 30 percent occupancy cap is not feasible for the theatre business as weekend occupancy on an average goes as high as 50 to 60 percent.

This is why Tenet’s release in India has become important now more than ever.

Maryam Farooqui
first published: Aug 30, 2020 01:02 pm