Thursday, March 4, 2021

Year of big clashes, but is it the right time for box office fights?

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As the entertainment industry is on a road to recovery amid the pandemic, with 100% occupancy allowed in cinemas, many films have already lined up for release. As a result, filmmakers are now filling up the calendar which does seem to have quite a few clashes.

John Abraham’s Satyameva Jayate 2 is set to clash with Salman Khan’s Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai this Eid, SS Rajamouli’s pan India project, RRR is clashing with Ajay Devgn’s Maidaan, Shahid Kapoor’s Jersey and Alia Bhatt’s Gangubai Kathiawadi are both eyeing a Diwali release and there is also speculation about a possible clash between Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan and Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha.

But the question arises that given the financial health of the film industry, shouldn’t the clashes be avoided this year? Moreover, shouldn’t the releases be spaced out in order to give all parties — producers and exhibitors— involved a chance to recover some of the financial strain because of the pandemic?

Yash’s KGF 2 is set to clash with Tiger Shroff’s Heropanti 2

Film producer Anand Pandit says that it goes without saying that releases will have to be spaced out to give each other breathing space at the box-office.

“When two big ticket films clash on a Friday, everybody loses. The momentum that can turn a film into a blockbuster can be hindered when another big film is competing with it so we all have to think of the big picture instead of focusing on immediate gains. It is very rare that two big films released on the same day like Lagaan and Gadar were on June 15, 2001, do spectacularly well without eating into each other’s profits. Especially at a time when the business has been hit so hard, it is time to extend support within the fraternity and release films without creating unnecessary conflicts. Let us focus on winning together rather than losing together,” he shares.

Musing the same sentiment, trade analyst Atul Mohan adds that this year the industry just cannot afford to have clashes.

“At least for one more year, we should avoid clashes. We have to get back into the business and leave the egos aside. One holiday will not make much of a difference. If you see the overall scenario, clashes cut in to each other’s business. Makers should not get into these fight for screens,” Mohan says.

Ajay Devgn’s Maidaan is set to clash with SS Rajamouli’s RRR
Ajay Devgn’s Maidaan is set to clash with SS Rajamouli’s RRR

Industry experts also feel that a clash between two films of different genre is still acceptable because the target audience is different but a clash between films which cater to the same audience base is not ideal.

“I feel that it I nice to have something in the cinemas for all kinds of audiences at any given point of time. But movies that are poised to cannibalize into each other’s business is not a great idea,” shares film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi, while adding that the smart move would be to start rolling out films soon and not wait for holidays and long weekends.

Then there are also the regional and Hollywood films which are going to make the release calendar all the more crowded. Chiranjeevi’s Telugu film Acharya and Venkatesh’s Narappa is also coming out on Eid this year.

Telugu film BB3 (Balayya Babu 3) starring Nandamuri Balakrishna and Ravi Teja’s upcoming film Khiladi will both release on May 28.

“Because 2020 was such a no show year, clashes are bound to happen this year. Producers only have limited Fridays, limited holidays and everyone wants to capitalize on that and give their film the best chance because everyone wants to recover the loss,” explains trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

But insiders are still hopeful that at least some clashes might be avoided. “There is still time and I am hopeful that conversations and rationalization will happen between producers and exhibitors involved who can ensure that there no situation where there is a possibility of sub optimal business happening for any films,” Rathi adds.

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