The two big offerings, Akshay Kumar-starrer Sooryavanshi and Ranveer Singh’s 83 are the last opportunity for theatres that are looking for a revival in 2020.

Wondering why?  Because these two offerings are the last lot of tentpoles films waiting for a theatrical release. And as experts say, only big-ticket films in India will bring back audiences in large numbers to theatres.

While makers of Sooryavanshi and 83 are still hopeful for a theatrical release, they have said that they might take the direct to digital route if cinemas show no signs of reopening anytime soon.

For both the ventures, either a subscription on-demand (SVOD) or transactional video on-demand (TVOD) is being looked at.

Digital premieres of Sooryavanshi and 83 will be the biggest blow to cinemas across India as already many big ventures like Akshay Kumar’s Laxmmi Bomb, Alia Bhatt’s Sadak 2, Ajay Devgn’s Bhuj, have taken the direct OTT route.

Many other films have released on OTT first including Vidya Balan’s Shakuntala Devi, Ayushmann Khurrana and Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Gulabo Sitabo, Sushant Singh Rajput’s Dil Bechara, among others.

Along with Bollywood, big ventures down south are also releasing on OTT first which is a setback for the cinema business. This is because producers from the south market had said that taking the direct OTT route is not an option for big offerings from south.

Yet, actor Surya’s Soorarai Pottru will be releasing on Amazon Prime Video in October. The film was among the big ventures waiting for a theatrical release.

This is why it has become crucial for theatres to reopen in the next two months as waiting longer than this to unlock cinemas will lead to no new content left for theatrical release. And without new films, restarting theatres will prove detrimental for cinema business.

While the government is reportedly considering unlocking of cinema halls in India by September, only independent cinemas will be allowed to reopen. Theatres in multiplexes may not get a go ahead anytime soon.

Theatres in India have been shut for over five months due to coronavirus-led lockdown.

From box office to footfalls, global numbers are encouraging 

But theatres globally have reopened, and the good sign is the increasing footfalls and strong box office collections.

Take the example of Spain where the family drama Padre No Hay Mas Que Uno 2 (Father There Is Only One 2) grossed around USD 5.5 million (Rs 41.2 crore) in less than two weeks of its release on July 29.

According to a report by Box Office India, a film news portal, the Spanish film’s box office numbers are eight percent better than what could have been expected in such a scenario with limited screen count and seating capacity.

In fact, the film’s business is better than its predecessor Padre No Hat Mas Que Uno which had earned USD 5.1 (Rs 38.2 crore) over the same period of time last year.

Another example is of a Korean film called Deliver Us From Evil which has recorded highest single-day box office numbers since cinemas started reopening globally. The film saw strong occupancy level and as many as 565,762 tickets were sold for around 11,110 shows and the film played in 1,997 screens.

Deliver Us From Evil which released in Korea on August 5, collected 2.84 million (Rs 21.2 crore) on its opening day and took its five-day total to USD 14 million (Rs 104 crore).

According to the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), the film sold 350,000 tickets on its opening day and made it to the top of the local box office for the next four days.

France is another market which is seeing box office revival. A recent release, How To Be A Good Wife recorded 20,000 spectators across 600 screens on June 22 when the film re-released after a 14-week hiatus due to COVID-19 lockdown in France.

What is more interesting is that new films have started releasing theatres and movies like Russell Crowe’s Unhinged is seeing strong response from across markets.

Experts say that the global numbers are encouraging enough to give confidence to theatre owners that with new content and especially tentpole films like Sooryavanshi and 83, audience will return to theatres.

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