Amid coronavirus fears theatres see dip in footfalls fear of shutdown

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Amid coronavirus fears theatres see dip in footfalls fear of shutdown

The film industry is in a state of fix due to coronavirus, which is impacting footfalls and ultimately the box office business.

On March 10, the Kerala government suggested theatre owners to keep cinema halls closed until March 31 as a precautionary measure. And this is a big blow to the Malayalam film industry.

Along with this, an upcoming Malayalam language film Kilometers and Kilometers, scheduled to release on March 12, has been postponed.

And it is not just Mollywood that is fearing change in release schedule. Even Bollywood is expecting the same. However, nothing is certain yet.

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“If films get pushed (to later dates), footfalls will be impacted even more because there will be no content. We are expecting between today and tomorrow to get an update on Sooryanvanshi’s release schedule, which is currently March 24. In case the movie is shifted to a later date, then we are looking at a scenario when for four to five weeks there will be no big film. Also, Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi is expected to do business in the range of Rs 250 crore to Rs 300 crore and 2.5 to 3 crore footfalls,” said Shailesh Kapoor, CEO, Ormax Media.

Adding to this film and trade business analyst, Girish Johar said if one movie gets postponed, the entire movie release schedule goes haywire.

“One change in schedule of a big film will lead to a domino effect. Plus, change in release time will mean added marketing budget and these are big budget films and even adding Rs 5 crore more is a lot,” he added.

He also highlighted why March is so important for Bollywood.

“We already down by 12-15 percent in comparison to the same period last year. February was a dull period and the only silver lining was Thappad. So, there is more pressure on Baaghi 3, Angrezi Medium and Sooryavanshi. Among these three films, at least Rs 500 crore has to be done to reach similar levels of the same period last year,” he said.

But only change in movie release schedule is not worrying the film business. Impact on footfalls due to coronavirus is a matter of concern too.

According to Kapoor, there is around 15-20 percent dip in footfalls seen for Baaghi 3 due to the outbreak.

According to Kapoor, a 15-20 percent dip in footfalls was seen for Baaghi 3 due to the outbreak.

“This may go up to 25-30 percent in the next few weeks. The impact could be higher for a smaller film like Angrezi Medium (to release on March 13),” he said.

Even Rahul Puri, MD, Multa Arts, agrees that there has been an impact of the outbreak on box office.

Baaghi 3 was down in terms of opening day numbers in comparison to what was expected. Occupancy in theatres is depending on how many coronavirus cases India is reporting. The situation is such that there will some effect of corona throughout March,” he added.

Tiger Shroff-starrer Baaghi 3 which hit theatres on March 6 despite seeing highest first day business in 2020 has opened lower than what was expected.

But not all are agreeing that corona is impacting film business. Few believe that it is average content that is leading to lesser number of people coming to theatres.

“Currently we cannot say that film business has been impacted so far. It is more to do with the quality of the film. For Baaghi 3, the report was not good,” said Amit Sharma, MD, Miraj Cinemas.

And he may be right. That’s because people are stepping out to go to theatres and the proof is the collections for Baaghi 3 that saw a significant jump on day three of its release and holiday for Holi on March 10.

The film which started by posting revenues to the tune of Rs 17.50 crore on day one which dipped on the second day at Rs 16 crore, saw a big jump on its day three when it collected Rs 20 crore. After over a 100 percent fall in collections on day four at Rs nine crore, Baaghi 3 minted Rs 14 crore on day five despite several screens starting shows post noon/ after 3 pm.

Also,  Taapsee Pannu’s Thappad which hit theatres on February 28 is still gaining strong traction in theatres and so far has collected Rs 30 crore. The film saw a good jump during the second weekend of its release and continues to maintain the momentum during weekdays.

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