The third wave of the pandemic has hit the movie industry bad once again. In the first and the second wave theatres all over the country had been shut down, and that had caused a huge loss not only for the movie makers but also the exhibitors. After the theatres got the permission to open up in one of the major part of the country in October 2021, films started coming in good numbers, and audiences stated filling up theatres once again. Whether it was 100 per cent capacity or 50 per cent capacity, theatres reveled in footfalls with the success of films like ‘Sooryavanshi’, ‘Antim’, ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ and ‘Pushpa’.
However, this third wave brought with it the downfall of the biggest film to have released in a long time, ‘83’. The mammoth release was touted to be a huge money spinner for not just the makers of the movie, but also for the exhibitors. But sadly, just a day or two prior to its release on December 24, the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 pandemic started creating havoc. Despite getting the best of reviews, ‘83’ stared at empty theatres.
Within the next couple of days, varied states announced total shutdown of theatres due to the rising cases of Covid-19 and the remaining states reduced the 100 per cent occupancy back to 50 per cent occupancy. It was brutal.
In the next few days, right before the New Years, films like ‘Jersey’, ‘RRR’, ‘Radhe Shyam’, ‘Prithviraj’, ‘Gangubai Kathiawad’ and many others pulled their films away from release. The reason stated was the rising cases of Covid-19 all over the country. The third wave was officially here!
But with this happening, the month of January, which was to be a huge money-spinner for the box-office, turned out to be dullest month despite theatres being open in half occupancy. Theatre owners don’t know what films to run as they’re continuing to run the held over titles of ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ and ‘Pushpa’ – both of which became mammoth successes all over the country. In some places ‘83’ even is being run, however, the footfalls for the same are not too high.
Talking about the uncertain future, Sameer Dixit, CMD of Pickle Entertainment and Music Company, one of the biggest Film Distribution, Marketing and Promotions firm, says, “It’s true. There are no releases in January. The big releases have all pulled out, and that’s causing a bit of a problem for the exhibitors. However, the saviour in this has proved to be smaller regional films. Some Marathi films which have released these few weeks have done far exceedingly well. However, the big releases will only happen post January 2022 end. Mostly, by February 2022 there might be a decision on the reopening of theatres, provided the number of Covid-19 cases don’t see a massive rise in the next few weeks. Then only, all the big releases would once again be back in theatres.”
The uncertainty of the future is causing a lot of losses for the exhibitors. The single screen theatres are the ones who are suffering the most. Many of them has invested a lot of money to get their theatres cleaned and sanitized and even had restructured their look and feel after the theatres opened up in October 2021. They are once again having to shut down their shop, incurring heavier losses.
Also, there is the impending fear of these big-ticket releases, unable to bear the interests going higher, finally resorting to on OTT release. Let’s wait and watch if any of these biggies do end up taking the OTT route or stick on for theatres to reopen and then release their films.