The new year hasn’t seen a mega blockbuster yet, and it seems that next month is not likely to bring a lot of business to Bollywood either. At the moment, March is supposed to have only one big release in Anushka Sharma’s maiden production venture, NH10.
While some blame the ICC Cricket World Cup for the relatively dry spell, others point to the school exams as the reason. We speak to cinema owners on how they plan to generate business during this lean period.
Manoj Desai, who owns Maratha Mandir and the G7 Multiplex in Mumbai, explains the situation, saying, "I didn’t screen PK (2014) as I was asked to raise ticket prices. So, since January this year, I have been hoping that some film will help us tide over the past, but none of the films till now have done well. As much as 60 per cent of the audience walked out of the halls because the films were so bad. If things go as they are, I will have to close a few screens to cut cost, which I ideally don’t want to do."
However, some expected this scenario, and feel that even if one film does reasonably well, things will take a positive turn for them. Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Cinemas, says that, traditionally, March has always been a weak month because of the exams. "But a fate of a film can be decided only by the audience after it releases," he says, adding, "Like last year, Queen released in March, and did very well. We have been in the business for a long time and we already factor in cost like electricity, etc. in March."
While cinema owners are looking at applying several permutations and combinations to make sure that losses are minimised, few feel that a low-release month gives an opportunity to owners to get work done in the cinema halls without any disturbance to movie-goers.
Akshaye Rathi, who owns 21 cinema halls in 15 cities, says, "This period is good for theatre business, as you can get your renovation and upgradation work done, and be prepared for a new lot of films coming in April."