Theatre distributors, analysts weigh in on success of Master, Krack; predict early revival with upcoming big releases
With Vijay's Master success story at the front, theatre distributors predict for a surge at the Indian box office after the disastrous 2020 marred by the coronavirus pandemic.
The resounding theatrical success of the South Pongal releases Master, Krack, Red and also Eeswaran to an extent has paved the way for a lot of positivity in Indian cinema’s theatrical sector. After the disastrous 2020 marred by the Covid pandemic, this surge of box office successes at the start of the new year is seen as a revival of Indian cinema at large. Salman Khan announcing his Radhe as an Eid 2021 release in theatres has pumped up the excitement levels even more.
In this exclusive report, Firstpost talks to various stakeholders about the revival of the Indian film industry with the theatres reopening with various restrictions in place.
"South Indian cinema is definitely back. The unique thing with Master was that it had a wide release in the North Indian belts too for the Hindi dubbed version, unlike most other Vijay films. The result has been positive for UFO (who made this possible) and going forward, we can expect a lot more big Tamil films to have simultaneous Hindi dubbed releases too. Like how there's a solid market for Telugu dubbed simultaneous releases of big Tamil films, we can expect a good market for Hindi dubbed theatrical too, in this post-Covid era. All along, it's mostly just been satellite and digital rights for our Hindi dubbed versions. I've been in Mumbai constantly for the past few months and I can sense the positivity in Bollywood too, thanks to the success of the South Pongal releases, Master, Krack and Red," producer-distributor KE Gnanavel Raja of Studio Green told Firstpost.
Meanwhile, Mahesh Koneru, the Telugu producer and distributor of Master’s Telugu dubbed version says this is a very happening period again for cinema. "In Telugu industry, from March to July last year, we were completely shut and it was really bad. After that, we resumed operations slowly as we had to complete pending shoots and ready films for their release. OTT was like a relief measure for us during the lockdown. The magic of cinema doesn't exist without theatres; stars are born in theatres! The Telugu audience has again proved their love for cinema with their patronage to Solo Brathuke So Better, Krack, Red and Master. They love good content from all languages, we just need to give them good films; they'll visit theatres," gushed Mahesh adding that the movie-going culture of Telugu audiences is still vibrant.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh said that the success of Master in Tamil and Krack in Telugu has pumped oxygen into the lungs of the ailing Indian cinema industry. "The pandemic was unexpected and the movie business was affected badly. A huge star like Vijay showed the courage to bring his film Master to theatres for Pongal, and now the success is there for all to see. That excitement and positivity have spilled over to Bollywood too, obviously," said Adarsh.
He further added: "Ever since Salman Khan's announcement to bring Radhe to theatres for Eid this May, I can sense so much excitement amidst exhibitors and distributors. They are sending random happy emojis on Whatsapp. Like Vijay, Salman has also shown immense courage to announce his film as a theatrical release with the exact date as well. They have led the way in these trying and testing times! I'm waiting for the makers of Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi to also similarly make an exact announcement with the date, which I believe will be in March."
Rhevanth Cheran, exhibitor of Rohini Silver Screens in Chennai said, "I would confidently say that people have lost that fear of coming to cinema halls. Master is sustaining in a big way after the opening festival weekend too, and I can see a lot of family crowds at our premises. Since we have many screens, we are able to manage the crowd inflow efficiently. The film industry was skeptical whether the people would return to cinema halls. Master has broken all their fears and it's definitely a revival. It's good to see Salman Khan's Radhe also announcing a theatrical release."
Citing the example of Master, Gnanavel Raja analysed the status of overseas markets. "With respect to Tamil cinema, when the prominent overseas markets like Malaysia, USA and UK return to usual operation, then we can say that the situation has definitely returned to 'more or less normal'. When such good collections are possible in South India with the 50% occupancy cap being followed, just imagine the collections when 100% occupancy is restored," said Gnanavel.
Mahesh Koneru is upbeat about the summer line-up of Telugu film industry. "The summer looks very promising for the Telugu industry with big films like Vakeel Saab, Rang De, Acharya and Radhe Shyam. Of course, we'll have RRR later this year. After a terrible year, 2021 looks like a good year already, on the basis of the opening month. And with vaccination underway, I expect the 50% occupancy cap to also be eventually lifted and we can have jam-packed halls again."
Adarsh said the success of Master and Krack proves that cinema will always thrive on the big screen. "Our audiences love their stars. Big screen cinema will survive all these speed breakers, and we'll continue driving! And the positive reception to Master in even Australia and the Middle East shows that South Indian cinema lovers are always ready to come to cinema halls when they get a film with good content. Now the industry just needs to keep feeding the audience with good films," said Adarsh about audiences footfalls.
On a concluding note, Rhevanth said, "As long as the content is good, I definitely expect the audiences to come to cinema halls, irrespective of the film’s star power and lead cast. In the immediate future, I believe Dhanush's Jagame Thandhiram will be released in theatres. It's an ideal theatrical film and should do well. I'm sure that the team would've gained a lot of confidence and belief after the way Master has been received in theatres by not just fans but also the family audiences.”
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