By: Dar Shahid Hussain
ith the worldwide outbreak of pandemic Coronavirus, life has come to a halt. Schools, offices, road and air communication have been stopped, events have been deferred or cancelled and the dates of the movie releases have been postponed. The people have been advised not to venture out, nor to get into touch, keep physical distance and so on to avoid falling to this virus. In India too, malls, gyms and theatres have been closed indefinitely to contain the spread of the virus. so the halt in the world has affected every sphere, including the business industry.
The film industry is substantially affected by this pandemic. Like other offices and public places, the cinemas and movie theatres have been closed and film releases have been deferred to future dates or delayed indefinitely, due to which the global box office has dropped by billions of dollars and streaming has become more popular, while the stock of film exhibitors has also gone down dramatically. The Chinese film industry had lost US $2Billion by March,
North America saw its lowest box office weekend of two decades and likewise the other cinema industries also went down in business. The virus also has brought India’s enormous entertainment sector to a halt in a way previously hard to imagine. India’s film industry, while itself spread across Hindi-language Bollywood and other regional language cinemas, is the world’s largest by both tickets sold and output, churning out about 2,000 productions a year. It directly and indirectly accounted for almost 3 per cent of gross domestic product and employed about 1m people through the formal and informal economy, according to a 2017 study by the Boston Consulting Group.
The share prices of large Indian cinema chains have tumbled, as analysts fret over the scale of the hit they could take. The Rs183 billion Indian film industry is going through its worst phase because of the lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. While the impact of the lockdown on the industry at large is still being evaluated, we take a look at how slim production and related fields have suffered in India over the past month. Covid-19’s first impact came when Reliance Entertainment on March 12 indefinitely postponed Rohit Shetty’s film Suryavanshi. The film was scheduled to release on March 24.
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This was followed by Sir, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, Haathi Mere Sathi and 83 other releases getting postponed too. Baaghi 3 saw fewer takers in its second week, and Irfan Khan’s Angrezi Medium had to be pulled out of theatres. It eventually was released on OTT platform Disney+Hotstar. Similarly a lot of big ticket releases in regional languages have also been delayed. After an exciting January-February that offered a mix bag with Tanhaji, Chhapaak, Street Dancer 3D, Panga, Malang, Bhoot and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, March-April was supposed to be set aside for Suryavanshi and Ranveer Singh’s sports drama 83 with the extended Easter weekend expected to help Box Office collection. Now it seems like it is all set to go on the floors in the coming months. Things don’t even look bright for the magnum opus like Salman Khan’s Radhe, Akshay Kumar’s Prithviraj and Karan Johar’s much-awaited period drama Takht.
Experts estimate the entertainment industry has already lost more than a thousand crores because of the lockdown. “This is the first time in our history that the entire India box office is zero. According to a Financial Express report, the film industry faced a decline of 29.1 percent to Rs1062.4 crore in the first quarter of 2020, which stood at Rs1499.4 crore for the same period last year. In the regional film industries, analysts have not yet been able to put a number to the losses. But everyone knows the numbers will be huge and the impact will last at least a year. Filmmaker and distributor Madhura Sreedhar Reddy said the Telugu film industry was expected to rake in around Rs400 crore this summer. “Now, all estimations are gone. After the lockdown, the big ticket films are expected to do business with 25 per cent loss even before release. And there will be no theatrical release of small budget movies for a long time.”
In Chennai too the situation more or less remains the same. Tamil film distributor Tirupur Subramaniam said the film industry is expected to be the last to reopen. Yeshas Nag, Bengaluru-based film distributor, agrees that because of the pandemic there will be lingering fear to venture out. Also, since people have been getting partial or no income, spending on entertainment will become secondary. As the entire lifestyle of the people is halted so is the film industry. The people associated with it , particularly the labour class, are hit hard. We wish and pray that life comes to normal soon and world entertainment is in swing.
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