Will Omicron cast a shadow over box office releases?
Hyderabad: Most recently, Rajamouli said it would be unethical of him to postpone his magnum opus “RRR” – especially after directors of films like “Sarkaru Vaari Pata”, “F3” and “Bheemla Nayak” gave him have given way. However, in no time at all, he had to renege on his promise. Now, with Rajamouli announcing the postponement of the release of ‘RRR’, due to the closure of theaters in many states, it looks like it will be a difficult task for the film industry in the face of the harsh reality of Covid-19.
The releases of the previous year gave new hope to the big movies slated for release in 2022. However, there is an apparent discomfort that seems to be watching the box office – one with Covid-19 spreading its tentacles with its new variant Omicron, and the other with the price of tickets in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Triple-digit theaters are likely to disappear in Andhra Pradesh if low ticket prices persist. Contrary to this, some theaters in Telangana are doing a massacre by raising ticket prices up to Rs 295 per show following the consent of the state government. The immediate effect is that attendance at movie theaters has declined. Telangana Film Chamber of Commerce chairman Sunil K Narang lamented how a few cinema owners abused the Telangana government’s flexible GO pricing, leaving a hole in the pockets of the public. While such issues bother the industry, Omicron is another serious concern for films in the days to come.
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The two big films ‘Pushpa’ and ‘Akhanda’ which have been released recently have rekindled the box office sentiment hopes for film producers. But the inescapable question for the directors of great films who are releasing this Sankranti is: do they really have a plan B? With the number of new Omicron cases on the rise, states like Karnataka, Kerala and Uttarakhand have already imposed a nighttime curfew to limit the spread.
Restrictions on seat occupancy and number of shows per day as part of security protocols could affect film screening revenue for the fourth show. Meanwhile, Prabhas’ “Radhe Shyam”, Vijay Deverakonda’s “Liger” and Alia Bhatt’s “Gangubai Kathiawadi”, which have a pan-Indian presence, were all due out in January and February.
Although OTT has emerged as another great alternative for producers to release their films, those with huge budgets over Rs 100 crore cannot opt for streaming platforms to release their films. Leaving profits aside, releasing films made on such a large scale will not even recoup the losses. We’ll have to wait and watch how the big players play the game cautiously in the face of danger.
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