Days before the release of south superstar Vijay's Master, the Tamil Nadu government on January 6 allowed theatres to operate at 100 percent capacity. Two days later, the state government reversed its order and theatres will now operate at 50 percent capacity, a move that analysts say will affect the box office collections of Master.
According to Karan Taurani, Vice President, Elara Capital, Master may see a 10-15 percent drop in collections as Tamil Nadu is a key market for the film. The film was expected to collect anywhere between Rs 180-Rs 200 crore but may see a slight drop in business.
Adding to this, Shailesh Kapoor, CEO, Ormax Media, a media consulting firm said, "Master is a big release and would have recorded high occupancy levels, close to 75-100 percent in many theatres. Hence, there will be an impact on the collections. However, this impact will be a short-term impact in the first week, as most audience who miss out on the film because of the occupancy constraint will eventually go for it, unless the word-of-mouth is very poor."
The Hindi version of the film, Vijay The Master, will release on January 14 and the Tamil version on January 13.
Taurani expects exhibitors in Tamil Nadu to increase the number of shows. However, he doesn't think that will be of much help. "They might increase the number of shows but that won't compensate for collections because your occupancy is half. So, you are getting 50 percent occupancy but your number of shows is increasing by around 10 percent."
Big Bollywood films not so soon in theatres
In addition to affecting Master's box office collections, the decision will further delay the release of big Bollywood ventures like Akshay Kumar's Sooryavanshi and Ranveer Singh-starrer 83.
"Large film announcements will dry down until there is no change in occupancy from 50 percent to 75 or 100 percent. However, medium-budget films will release as they are already in talks for theatrical release. One regional medium budget film is coming in February. So, I don't see any problem for medium-size film announcements," Taurani said.
"When it comes to 100 percent occupancy in all states that will take time. But even if it were to happen in three to four states, then you will see large film announcements soon."
Recently, West Bengal allowed theatres to operate at full capacity.
States allowing theatres to operate at full capacity may not happen anytime soon but the expectation is that home ministry may allow theatres to run at 75 percent occupancy by March.
"This will be a big positive because usually occupancies don't exceed beyond 60-70 percent even on the first weekend," said Taurani.
Kapoor pointed out that even at 50 percent, a big film with good content can do very well in the current times by having a longer extended run.
"Normally, a big film gets 65-80 percent of its box office in the first week. In COVID times, this proportion will reduce, as part of the collections will shift to second and third week. But that doesn't impact the business by much," he said.
As for the big ventures, there are various permutation and combinations at play like a higher revenue share for distributors.
"For recently released films like Tenet
and Wonder Woman 1984
, the distributors had asked for two to three percent higher share. Now, it is expected that distributors of big Bollywood ventures will ask for five percent higher share in the revenue. So, by end of March or April beginning we may see one large Hindi film releasing in theatres," he said.