Report on Shemaroo

Filmmakers’ hopes dashed again as second Covid wave runs rampant

Makers of Farhan Akthar's Toofan postponed the release of the movie

KERALA: The Indian film industry was beginning to show signs of a feeble revival early this year. As restrictions eased and Covid cases declined, people began returning to the theatres to relive the cinematic experience. The relief, however, did not last long. Now, with the second wave of Covid2019 showing no signs of abating, the industry’s future is in jeopardy yet again.

India has recorded a record 4.01 lakh new cases of Covid in the last 24 hours and lost over 4,194 people who were battling with its complications. The deteriorating situation has compelled filmmakers to reconsider the release of their projects. Some have taken the streaming route, but even that faced hurdles, as the situation continued to worsen, impacting viewership across all mediums.

Filmmakers put brakes on new releases

The makers of Farhan Akhtar-starred Toofan have postponed the release of the movie due to the surge in Covid cases. The film was slated to release on Amazon Prime Video on 21 May. In a statement shared on social media, Akhtar said the current focus is only on the pandemic.

"The situation in India is truly heart-breaking… In light of the severity of the situation, our focus is completely on the pandemic and on supporting our employees, their families, and helping the wider community. Therefore, we have decided to postpone the release of our film Toofan until the situation improves," he tweeted. 

Makers of Telugu flick Khiladi, which stars Mass Maharaja Ravi Teja in the lead role, have also decided to defer its theatrical outing. The movie was initially scheduled to come to cinemas on 28 May; a new date of release is yet to be announced.

Wait for theatrical releases gets longer

According to the latest updates, Marakkar: Arabikkadalinte Simham (which bagged the Best Feature Film honour at the 67th National Film Awards) is scheduled to hit the screens on 12 August 2021. The film was slated for a 23 March release but was postponed to 13 May due to the first phase of the Covid outbreak. As the marauding virus showed no signs of slowing down, the makers again pushed back the release to 12 August. With a third wave imminent, the August release could also get impacted. If the situation persists, producers may look for other options like direct OTT releases or hybrid releases as the content will get outdated. 

"Even though it is too early to comment, current developments indicate that theatres in the country will not open in June or July, especially because vaccination is progressing slowly, and the number of fresh cases is rising phenomenally. Not just Maharashtra, most of the states are witnessing a sudden surge in cases," said Elara Capital vice president and research analyst (media and consumer discretionary) Karan Taurani. 

A potential third wave?

As India struggles to combat the second wave, the government has issued warnings for a potential third wave that could hit the country later this year. According to principal scientific advisor to the PM Dr KV Vijay Raghavan, the third wave of Covid is inevitable. “The next outbreak could turn deadlier and it is not clear on what timescale this phase 3 will occur,” he added. “Hopefully, incrementally, but we should prepare for new waves. New variants will arise all over the world and in India too.”

The dire warning comes at a time when the pandemic has already taken a toll on the Indian film industry. Following the Coronavirus outbreak, several production houses postponed the releases of their films, while some of them opted for OTT premieres. Although some Bollywood movies like Mumbai Saga and Roohi got a theatrical showing earlier this year, they failed to make an impact at the box office. 

Will Radhe light the way ahead?

Radhe is the first Indian movie that is set to get a hybrid release this May. The Salman Khan-starrer will hit theatres on 13 May and simultaneously premiere on Zee5 and Zee Plex as a pay-per-view. If the Covid situation persists in the country for long, several big-budget movies are likely to follow in Radhe’s footsteps. 

"Considering the current trend, makers of big-budget movies like Sooryavanshi may not hold the movies for a long time. They may prefer an OTT release or hybrid release. The second wave might go quickly, we do not know," opined Karan. 

Given this uncertainty, most big-ticket, mass market films, both Bollywood and regional, have vanished from the upcoming release slate. Depending on how Radhe performs at the box office despite strict restrictions in several states and the success of the pay-per-view showing, which is yet to take off in India, hybrid release may be a ray of hope to industry stakeholders.

Latest Reads
Flexibility is the future of cinema exhibition, says Disney CEO Bob Chapek

So how does the world of cinematic exhibition look like currently and how will it shape up beyond the pandemic? To get a perspective, let's take a look at how Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek sees it. Speaking at the JP Morgan media summit last week, Chapek summarised the future of cinema exhibition in a...

Movies Hollywood
Zee Cinema’s world television premiere of The Master on Sunday

Popular Hindi movie channel Zee Cinema’s world television premiere of the pan-Indian blockbuster The Master is on Sunday, 30 May at 08.00 pm. The Master is the Hindi dubbed version of Vijay's Tamil blockbuster Master, directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj.   

Movies Hindi
Filamchi inks a strategic partnership with Chingari app

MUMBAI: Filamchi, a Bhojpuri movie channel from the house of IN10 Media Network has signed a strategic partnership with Chingari, a homegrown short video app for live streaming of its world TV Premieres. The association will commence with the premiere of the movie Loha Pahalwan, which will be live-...

Movies Hindi
Now Showing: Himalayan woman power documentary at IFFLA’s 19th edition

The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) returns on 20-27 May with a line-up of narrative and documentary features and shorts for the festival’s 19th edition where 40 documentaries, including shorts, will be virtually released. While the festival is geo-focused to California, special India...

Movies Hollywood
BookMyShow Stream adds exclusive content to its movie library

Mumbai: With Indian audiences confined to their home due to the second wave of coronavirus outbreak, BookMyShow Stream is offering engaging content to the viewers. From drama to action thriller, BookMyShow Stream will be streaming movies like The Secrets We Keep, Daniel, and Redemption Day to the...

Movies Hindi
US Network NBC drops broadcast of 2022 Golden Globes

US television network NBC has announced that it will drop its broadcast of the Golden Globes ceremony in 2022. The decision comes after the Hollywood backlash over the lack of diversity and the ethics of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), whose members vote on the annual awards for...

Movies Hindi
Nayattu movie review: A raw take on the Indian political circus

KERALA: At a time when police highhandedness, use of excessive force and collusion between lawmakers and lawkeepers has come under scrutiny in the US, India and other parts of the world, Malayalam political thriller Nayattu enters the fray with a story in which the ''hunter becomes the hunted''. It...

Movies Regional
Covid second wave pushes multiplexes’ recovery to next fiscal: CRISIL

New Delhi: Multiplexes across the country are set to log operating losses for the second straight fiscal as localised lockdowns, night curfews and other restrictions to contain the resurgence of Covid2019 infections will keep occupancies low for the next few months, according to CRISIL ratings. The...

Movies Hindi

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories

* indicates required