Report on Shemaroo

Curtains for Cinemas?: Industry pins hopes on vaccine roll-out amid second wave

Shares of Inox, PVR slip after limited lockdown announced in Maharashtra.

KOLKATA: The film entertainment segment of the M&E industry was perhaps the worst hit due to a long-term closure induced by the outbreak of Covid2019. With phased opening and beginning of theatrical releases, the allied segment had been on the course of recovery, but the second wave of the pandemic has abruptly derailed hopes of revival.

After fresh lockdown guidelines were enacted in Maharashtra, shares of major multiplex chains like Inox and PVR slipped for two consecutive days, given the fact that the state contributes to around 35 per cent of all India box office.

“As a responsible organisation, we completely relate to the Covid situation in Maharashtra. The revival process of the cinema industry had begun, and the recent curbs are much like a speed-breaker in the journey, which we shall surpass soon in a month’s time,” said Inox Leisure Ltd Alok Tandon.

He went on to add that the performance of movies like Roohi and Godzilla Vs Kong showed that audiences are willing to turn up in big numbers for new and good quality content, even after an elongated lockdown.

However, more than cinema occupancy, what’s adding to the woes of cinema owners is that the skyrocketing caseloads have once again disrupted the release calendar. Akshay Kumar-starrer Sooryavanshi, originally scheduled for March 2020, has been postponed indefinitely from its 30 April 2021 release date. Eventually other big ticket releases like Radhe will follow the same path, Elara Capital VP research analyst (media) Karan Taurani surmised.

Like a playback of last year, this lockdown too will be lifted in a phased manner based on the number of daily cases, opined Taurani. But this time around it may not be as troublesome as 2020, and unlock will happen more swiftly thanks to the vaccine roll out being ramped up. However, he pointed out that theatres may well be the last to open up even if cases come down.

On the other hand, Inox’s Tandon has reposed faith in upcoming content and increased turnout in the markets dependent on movies in other Indian languages, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the country. Over the past few months, movies like Master, Roberrt and Uppena had brought out the southern audiences in droves. Yuvarathnaa, Sulthan and Wild Dog are also currently performing exceedingly well in the South Indian markets, he added.

“With Covid cases rising again, there are two major factors which will determine the future of theatrical revenues. One is the fear factor which can lead to lower footfalls even if theatres are open. Secondly, the slate: some films have again started postponing their releases. Unless there is a mass vaccination drive properly rolled out and a solid film slate of releases, the situation is probably not going to improve meaningfully,” EY India partner and media & entertainment leader Ashish Pherwani remarked.

He also noted that the uncertainty around recovery timelines could result in further direct-to-digital releases, but that may not be a permanent trend. In a similar vein, Taurani mentioned that there is already a big backlog of films and April-June was supposed to be a period where cinemas could go back to 17-20 per cent occupancy on the back of big Hindi releases. Now, many of the mid-small budget producers will again go for OTT premieres. 

Moreover, in-cinema advertising, which went down almost 90 per cent in 2020, will also be keenly impacted even if the theatres are open in some states.

“Artificial intelligence has actively taken over the cinema advertising space and this allows for delivering appropriate content depending on location of the cinema, ticket price, demographic and occupancy,” said Harkness Screens Asia EVP Preetham Daniel. “Though the occupancy levels in the auditoriums are not as high as pre-Covid, the value of the advertisement, I believe will be equally impacted. Having said this, the revenue from advertising will definitely take a hit. We had seen the occupancy numbers and box office rising but given the second wave, we may see it drop again as some large releases will now get pushed to June.”

The advantage of AI is the decision to play a particular ad will now be more accurate based on the heaps of data available on people behavioural pattern, he explained. This allows for brands to sign on long term as opposed to a weekly or monthly run. While Covid2019 also has affected the on ground activation campaigns for the brands, Daniel remained optimistic that it will eventually pick up as and when hyped movies hit cinema screens.

“Thanks to a huge pent-up demand and a stellar line up of movies, 2021 is destined to be a blockbuster year for us, and we are still certain about it. In the current situation, we have pinned our hopes on the rapid and widespread vaccination drive, which we hope would arrest the surge in cases,” Tandon said.

Latest Reads
Second Covid wave chokes India; filmmakers eye OTT route for new releases

MUMBAI: After showing signs of flattening the curve, India is once again struggling to leash the deadly virus that has reared its ugly head in the last few weeks. On 13 April, the country recorded more than 1,61,736 Covid2019 positive cases and over 900 related deaths. As the pandemic rages on,...

Movies Hindi
Amid pandemic scare, ‘Godzilla vs Kong’ enjoys dream box-office run

NEW DELHI: Adam Wingard's Godzilla vs Kong was one of the most-anticipated films of the year, though with many big-budget movies getting pushed back due to the pandemic, stakeholders were jittery if the monster action flick would come to cinemas. However, the movie had its international theatrical...

Movies Hindi
ShortsTV & BookMyShow Stream bring home the Oscars magic

MUMBAI: After the much-awaited announcement of Oscar 2021 nominations last month, film enthusiasts in India can now watch this year’s Academy Award contenders for short films from the comfort of their homes. ShortsTV has collaborated with BookMyShow Stream to present these films exclusively to...

Movies Hindi
FCAT abolished, filmmakers criticise government's decision

NEW DELHI: It was on April 7 that the government decided to abolish the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) with immediate effect. The statutory body was formed in 1983 to hear appeals from filmmakers against the rulings by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). FCAT has played a...

Movies Hindi
"Joji' movie review: Dileesh Pothan's Macbeth adaptation is an insightful crime drama

MUMBAI: Dileesh Pothan is widely considered one of the most talented filmmakers in Mollywood. His debut movie Maheshinte Prathikaram that starred Fahadh Faasil was a critical and commercial success, and later, the duo came together to deliver another blockbuster with Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum....

Movies Regional
Multiplex Association writes to Maharashtra CM, says possible lockdown could hit cinemas

MUMBAI: Maharashtra has been witnessing a drastic surge in coronavirus cases over the past few days, and several medical experts have suggested that the only possible way to curb the rising caseloads is by implementing a second lockdown. Amid looming uncertainty over a possible shutdown, the...

Movies Hindi
Fresh Covid wave chokes Bollywood, regional industries partially safe

NEW DELHI: After showing strong signs of flattening the curve, Covid2019 has again reared its ugly head in India. With more than 59,117 positive cases recorded on Thursday, infections of the deadly pathogen are climbing up steadily in the country, and experts are not ruling out the possibility of a...

Movies Regional
Disney pulls a Warner Bros, sets 'Black Widow' for simultaneous release

NEW DELHI: Taking a cue from rival Warner Bros, media & entertainment behemoth Disney has set its highly anticipated MCU outing Black Widow for a simultaneous release in cinema halls and on its premium streaming service, Disney+ Premier Access for an additional cost. After interminable delay...

Movies Hollywood
Black Sand wins best documentary at Best Film Awards

Dr Sohan Roy’s directorial Black Sand has won the Best Documentary honour in the Nature Documentary Category at Best Film Awards.

Movies Documentary

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories

* indicates required