Bollywood: The release rush!

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By HT

Mumbai, July 3 -- Come July 7, two major Hindi films - the Sridevi-starrer Mom and Kartik Aaryan, Paresh Rawal starrer Guest In London - will vie for cinegoers' attentions, even as Spider-Man: Homecoming hits theatres on the same day. 
 
And this isn't a one-off weekend either: the release schedule for the next three months (until September, in fact) is jam-packed with multiple releases.
 
BIG-TICKET LINE-UP
 
An estimated 25 major films - besides other smaller ones - are scheduled to be released in the next three months. The list includes Jab Harry Met Sejal, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Jagga Jasoos, Mubarakan, Bareilly Ki Barfi, A Gentleman, Judwaa 2, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Munna Michael, Haseena Parkar, Baadshaho, Bhoomi, Lucknow Central and Simran.
 
The flood of films during these months isn't a new thing, however. 
 
"Historically, film-makers have rushed to release their movies after Ramzan (and Eid), so the release schedules are mostly full after June. In fact, that's why the trade is always upbeat that the second half of a year is always more fruitful than the first," says trade analyst Amod Mehra. The same period is likely to see big Hollywood productions such as War for the Planet of the Apes, Dunkirk and Kingsman: The Golden Circle also hitting the screens.
 
NO BREATHING SPACE
 
Clearly, the number of films being released is high, and that's probably why filmmakers feel "there should be some breathing space between two releases". Anees Bazmee, the director of Mubarakan, says, "If the audience likes a film, there should be space for that film to run for a while. Look at what happened with Dangal - people continued to watch the film long after it was released."
 
Exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi says that the June to July period has emerged as a "moneyspinner" in recent times, given the success of films such as Cocktail (2012), Singham Returns (2014) and Dil Dhadakne Do (2015). Bazmee says everyone has the right to make and release their films whenever they want. "We had announced our release date three months ago, when we started shooting. But if others have lined up their projects around your film's release date, what can you do [about it]?" says the director.
 
LONG RUN
 
While Mehra and Rathi attribute the rush to the festive period (in the second half of the year), Bazmee says it's the paucity of theatres that causes it. "If the number of films being made keeps going up but the number of screens doesn't match up to that speed, then how can you expect a long run for any film? Other films also need the space to be showcased," he says. The director adds that more theatres will be good for everyone - people, filmmakers and even the government, "as they can get more taxes".
 
FESTIVE MOOD
 
On the other hand, Rathi says that movies released during the festive period can get a 15-20% spike in the first day collections. "The fervour for festivals start from July onwards, hence the rush," he says.
 
Mehra concurs. "Back-toback festivals are the reason for the slew of films lined up for release after July. You have the Ganeshotsav, Raksha Bandhan, Independence Day, Dussehra, and many more. And as we all know, festivals mean big openings and more earnings because people are in a happy, festive mood," he says.
 
Lastly, Bazmee puts things in perspective. "In today's times, so many films are being made and released that it's not possible to get a long, clear window for a film. You can't do anything about it, as it's impossible to control others' release dates. You can take care of your plans, but not others'."