New Delhi: No more big Bollywood releases for a while. With Class 10 and 12 board exams on and cricket hogging audience attention, most cinema theatres will be screening old films, Oscar-winning productions and even matches for a month.
The board exams in March-April keep students and their families away. The Cricket World Cup that began Feb 19 will be on till April 2.
As a result, filmmakers and distributors have decided to halt big releases, lowering the competition for "Tanu Weds Manu" and "7 Khoon Maaf" which are already running in the halls.
"It`s usually the case that in exam time there are no major releases and this time it is accompanied by the World Cup, so occupancy of theatres is likely to be hit. Sometimes occupancy goes down to 10 percent," said Yogesh Raizada, corporate head (Cinemas) of Wave Cinemas.
"We are planning to organise some promotional activities for the public."
Big Cinemas in Mumbai plans to fill the gap by showcasing Oscar-winning movies. "We have planned to screen various Oscar-winning films during this time. A Punjabi film is also releasing and so that would help fill in the gap in Punjab," said Tusshar Dhingra, chief operating officer, Big Cinemas.
In Delhi, single-screen cinema Delight plans to target youth by showing Hollywood movies.
"March is a lean period. Since it is exam time, families don`t naturally come to the theatres. We will go for quick changes. We plan to target youth through English movies," said R.K. Mehrotra, general manager, Delight.
Some are tapping the cricket fever by screening live matches on the big screen. DT Cinema is one of them.
"We are planning to showcase the semi-finals and final of World Cup matches. As far as movies are concerned, we plan to screen 3D movies," said Amit Shah of DT cinema. "Also, recent releases `7 Khoon Maaf` and `Tanu Weds Manu` are likely to perform well."
Girish Wankhede of Cinemax in Mumbai has blocked every week of March for different genres.
"In the first week, we will be showcasing sci-fi films, the second week we have Rajnikanth films, the third week will be for regional cinema and the fourth and last week will be for multilingual films," Wankhede said.
Patna-based Ranjan Sinha, spokesperson of the Bihar-Jharkhand Motion Pictures Association, told IANS the association has no plans to combat exam and cricket fever.
"We are not doing anything special. The cinema halls here will continue showing old films like "Patiala House` and `7 Khoon Maaf`. In many movie halls, dubbed films from the south are also running. And we will continue releasing Bhojpuri films," he said.
"We have two films of Manoj Tiwari releasing during this period - `Mard No. 1` and `Internatioonal Daroga`, both Bhojpuri," he added.
T.N. Kapoor, who is a partner in the Indore-based Bharti Film Distributors, a firm which has been distributing movies since 1948, said: "We are planning to show old movies like Raj Kapoor`s `Aag` and some recent hits like `Dabangg`, `Wanted` and "Yamla Pagla Deewana`. We will also screen a few dubbed English movies.
"People in small towns enjoy action movies, that`s why we chose Salman Khan and Dharmendra films."
Suhel Warsi, a Lucknow-based producer, said: "Some theatres are running films like `Ziddi` and `Yalgaar`. Usually we show whatever we have. As such there is no special planning."
The turn of events is a blessing in disguise for "Tanu Weds Manu". Thanks to the promos, the film got a good opening, earning Rs.96 million in the opening week. The romantic comedy, starring Kangana Ranaut and Madhavan, shows how an NRI falls in love with a rebel.
Made at a budget of Rs.160 million, which includes print and publicity expenses, the film was released with 400 prints. It has broken even, selling the satellite rights at Rs.90 million and music rights at Rs.20 million.
Word of mouth publicity has helped improve footfalls.
"Average occupancy has been 50 percent. The songs of the film are good and people are liking the second half of the film, so it is a profitable equation," Wankhede told reporters.