Volume IconFilm industry set to take off after pandemic pause: 100 movies in 4 months

India's film industry is set to take off after covid-19 pandemic with more than 100 film releases slated over the next four months. Let us take a look at what is playing in the industry's favour

ImageTeam TMS New Delhi

After one-and-a-half years, theatres across India have started reopening with confidence, as more and more states are lifting restrictions. India is by far the world’s largest producer of films, with around 1,800 releases every year in several languages. 

In a booster shot for the industry, about 100 films are expected to be released in the next four months, coinciding with the festival season. Movie releases that were delayed because of the pandemic are hitting the big screens.

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Last week, the Maharashtra government allowed cinema halls to reopen from October 22 with 50% seating capacity. The state largely determines the commercial success or failure of Hindi movies as it is the biggest market for Bollywood, accounting for around 30% of its all-India box-office revenues. It is also home to one-fifth of India’s 3,200 multiplexes.

Once the cinemas in Maharashtra resume operations, it means that nearly 97% of the country’s total movie screens will be open. Most states have allowed cinemas to operate with 50% occupancy to ensure social distancing. But some states like Karnataka, Telangana and Rajasthan are allowing 100% occupancy in theatres. 

According to the Multiplex Association of India, the releases in the next three months will help box office collections hit around Rs 6,000 crore this year, compared with a dismal Rs 2,000 crore last year as movie halls were closed from March. The collections are expected to reach Rs 10,000 crore next year, the same level as in 2019.

PVR Pictures CEO Kamal Gianchandani said there had been a 25% increase in the number of movie release when compared with the pre-Covid time. There was going to be at least one potential blockbuster every two weeks in Hindi.

What reinforces the confidence of the industry is that India’s largest cinema chain PVR plans to add 40 screens across the country in this financial year, matching its pre-pandemic level of expansion. Rival multiplex operator INOX Leisure is looking to add 20 screens by March next year. 

According to a report by Ernst & Young, India had around 9,527 screens in 2019. Out of these 6,327 were in single-screen theatres and 3,200 multiplex screens.

However, last year saw the steepest drop in the number of single screens, with 1,000 of them estimated to have permanently shut down due to the impact of the coronavirus lockdowns.

Even in the past few months, several producers had opted to directly release their films on streaming platforms as crowds were hesitant to return to theatres. But that may be about to change as India’s aggressive vaccination drive is playing favourably for the industry.

With 70% of the country’s adult population partially vaccinated, and 25% fully, theatre owners are positive about more people safely returning to theatres. 

The success of the film industry this year, however, hinges on there being no third wave of the pandemic. Theatres are hoping for a turnaround, especially after a good response to Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie No Time to Die. The film was released on 30th September after a delay of nearly two years. Cinemas generally are anticipating brisk business, and producers have lined up several releases for Diwali and Christmas.

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First Published: Oct 14 2021 | 7:24 PM IST

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