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Thank God For Hollywood

Thank-God-For-Hollywood India West

Thank God For Hollywood


What has happened to Hindi film production? Where are the new films awaiting release? There hasn’t been much screen occupancy worth mentioning since January this year. We’ve had only one film, ‘Pathaan‘, and another one called ‘The Kerala Story’, along with ‘Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar’, which showed some positive results.

Not long ago, the industry used to produce around 180 to 200 films per year, and all of them were meant for theatrical releases. There were no videos, OTT platforms, or telefilms during those times. Even two top-tier stars didn’t mind their films releasing simultaneously, and usually, both films performed well.

There used to be an unspoken understanding to avoid clashing major film releases. However, it was rare for a film to enjoy a solo release. The norm was to have one major film and one to three or more other films releasing per week. If the big film attracted a full house, the other films would benefit from the overflow of the audience.

All films received equal screen time, giving small films an equal chance to succeed alongside major releases. The most prominent example of this is the simultaneous release of ‘Sholay’ and ‘Jai Santoshi Maa’ on August 15, 1975 (among others, surely!).

There was also a concept of lucky cinemas and filmmakers’ preferred cinemas. This referred to the “main cinema,” where a film would be released in a prominent theater located in the main residential and commercial area of major cities like Mumbai or Delhi. These areas usually had clusters of cinemas.

Filmmakers like Manoj Kumar regularly made films and had their favorite cinemas in Mumbai. Manoj Kumar’s favorite cinema was the Opera House, which was conveniently close to a local railway station and bus routes. It was a smaller theater with a seating capacity of just about 600+, making it easier to achieve long runs and jubilees, which were used to measure a film’s success.

Another favorite theater was the Roxy, located around 1,500 feet from the Opera House in the same area. Filmmakers like Shakti Samanta also preferred these screens. These producers didn’t mind waiting for months for these cinemas to become available.

Things changed dramatically with the arrival of multiplex properties. Film releases became like blanket bombing, occupying every available screen in a city.

The pre- and post-Covid-19 eras have brought about unprecedented changes in movie economics. Regardless of whether a film is a hit or a flop, there are very few films being released, and the ones that have been released since the lifting of lockdown restrictions have struggled to attract crowds, regardless of the star power or face value of the film.

Over the past couple of years, the supply of films has dwindled, and the few films ready for release seem reluctant to announce specific release dates, perhaps due to the anticipated lack of public interest and footfalls.

Since January this year, numerous small films have released every week, but footfalls have been lacking. Cinemas are suffering due to this uncertain flow of films. What’s even more concerning is that the period from April-end to mid-June, which is usually a vacation period, has been wasted.

In April of this year, we had ‘Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan’, which struggled to cross the Rs 100-crore box office mark. The only film that has performed well so far is ‘The Kerala Story’ in May. Hopes now rest on the three films due in June: ‘Zara Hatke Zara Bachkke’ (starring Vicky Kaushal and Sara Ali Khan; June 2); ‘Adipurush’ (starring Prabhas and Kriti Sanon; June 16); and ‘Satyaprem Ki Katha’ (starring Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani; June 30).

What has helped cinemas sustain themselves are Hollywood hits such as ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’, ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’, ‘Evil Dead Rise’, ‘Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 3’, and ‘Fast X’. Films like ‘Puss In Boots’, ‘Shazam: The Fury of Gods’, ‘The Super Mario Bros’, and ‘The Pope’s Exorcist’ have also made some contribution.

Unfortunately, the summer vacations have been wasted, and the flow of films doesn’t hold much promise in the days to come. From July until the end of the year, there is just one film slated for release per month.

At this rate, cinemas will be starved of content. For them, Hollywood films provide breathing space. Hollywood films are generally performing well all over India, with dubbed versions available and better awareness due to the reach of media and the Internet.

Considering that Hollywood is on a franchise trail, these films have even better prospects in India as they do elsewhere. The year has quite a promising lineup from Hollywood. In the next two months, Hollywood films will dominate the playtime with ‘Elemental’ (June 16); ‘The Flash’ (June 16); ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ (June 30); ‘Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One’ (July 14); ‘Barbie’ (July 21); ‘Oppenheimer’ (July 21); ‘The Marvels’ (July 28). These films will help the multiplexes survive.

However, Hollywood films are not suitable for many single-screen cinemas as they lack the 2K projection facility required to screen them. It is a miracle that these cinema properties are still standing and in business.

OTT Platforms Warned

The government, which seems to believe that only content depicted on cinema screens influences viewers, has finally come round to the view that even OTT features have the same potential to cause harm (according to me, even more potential).

The ministries of Health and Information and Broadcasting have mandated that OTT features must carry anti-tobacco warnings. The ministries have stated that they will “take strict action upon failure to comply with the rules.”

What does “strict action” entail? Why is it not specified? Because we are all about making rules but loosely implementing them. After all, who keeps a check?

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