Tenet gets footfalls back into theatres, exhibitors hope for quick recovery

Topics theatres | cinemas | multiplex

Films such as Thalaivi, starring Kangana Ranaut and Master, featuring Thalapathy Vijay, both Tamil blockbusters, will release next month.
The Christopher Nolan-directed Tenet, which released in India on December 4, has helped resurrect the domestic film exhibition business, struggling to get back on its feet, since reopening on October 15.

Box-office collections of Tenet, starring Dimple Kapadia and John David Washington, during the December 4-7 period have turned out to be the highest for exhibitors so far at nearly Rs 5 crore, prompting multiplex operators to anticipate a quick recovery for the sector.

"We see things getting better from here," says Kunal Sawhney, senior vice-president, operations, Carnival Cinemas. "The performance of Tenet especially in the IMAX format has been really good. The fact that movie-goers are making their way back into theatres has buoyed Hindi filmmakers to consider lining up their blockbusters in the near term. We remain hopeful of a recovery soon for the sector," he said.

Released in over 1,100 screens across four languages including Hindi, English, Tamil and Telugu, trade analysts have already indicated that Tenet's performance so far is the best for any film released post the lockdown.

Rajender Singh Jyala, chief programming officer, Inox Leisure, said the subsequent weekends would continue seeing good collections for Tenet, reiterating the importance of fresh content. "Given the current circumstances, the collections have been impressive and reflect the audience's appetite for new content. We have allotted more than 90 per cent of our screens for the movie," Jyala said.
Interestingly, Tamil and Telugu filmmakers have already scheduled their blockbusters from December onwards including Madhavan-starrer Maara, which will release on December 17 and Vishal-Krishna-starrer Vishal Chakra, which will release this weekend. Maara is a Tamil movie and Vishal Chakra, a Telugu film. 

Films such as Thalaivi, starring Kangana Ranaut and Master, featuring Thalapathy Vijay, both Tamil blockbusters, will release next month. Thalaivi will also be released in Hindi and Telugu respectively.

Devang Sampat, chief executive officer, Cinepolis India, says that regional filmmakers have been more optimistic, prompting them to act quickly. "The regional line-up is linked in part to the response of the audience in those markets. Having said that, the return of movie goers to theatres is good news. This should push Bollywood producers to get their big films out too," he says.

Exhibition industry sources indicate that Sooryavanshi, featuring Akshay Kumar, and 83, starring Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, will release between February and April next year. Radhe, starring Salman Khan, has been pushed to Eid next year, while Laal Singh Chaddha will release during Christmas of 2021.

Given the 50 per cent limit, big-ticket movies will have to be shown in double the number of theaters or the number of shows will have to be doubled, sector experts say. This will make it difficult for distributors to keep a tab on their budgets, which explains the reluctance of Hindi producers to release their blockbusters so far.
“We are not just hopeful but are quite positive that the situation will improve in the coming months,” Gautam Dutta, chief executive officer of PVR Cinemas, had said in a recent interview to Business Standard.

“It is very dynamic right now, and it may take 3-4 weeks for the confidence to start building up and for the new content to start coming in. However, it can be both sooner or later than that,” Dutta said.

Audience turnout is crucial to most exhibitors, since their discussions with film producers hinge on how many people will return to movie halls in the weeks ahead. This is because around 40 per cent of a movie’s revenue comes from the box office, which is, in turn, dependent on footfalls and ticket price.

While the average ticket price for multiplex operators is Rs 150-200, the first few months will see a 20-25 per cent discount to encourage visits. Discounts are also expected on food and beverages, with bookings, check-in, and food ordering all going contactless as part of the standard operating procedures.

Of the 9,600 screens in India, 70 per cent are single screens and 30 per cent are multiplex screens. But multiplexes earn more than half of India’s theatrical revenues, putting the pressure on them to ensure that safety, hygiene and content standards are met.

Tenet's performance so far

* Released in 1,137 screens across India

* Languages released include Hindi, English, Tamil and Telugu

* Box-office collections are Rs 5 crore between December 4-7

* Numbers expected to increase as film continues strong run

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