Amid COVID-19, Bollywood could lose Rs. 2,500 crore
Anyone interested in movies wants to know two things: a) When can shoots resume? b) And when do we get to sit in a movie theater again? But of course, it's not just cinephiles who are suffering from a standstill in the entertainment business. In fact, producers are reportedly looking at a loss of a whopping Rs. 2,500 crore due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are many factors behind this mind-boggling figure. Some of the reasons are idle productions costs because of stalled shoots and indefinite delays in movie releases. But there's more to the story. Quoting trade analyst Komal Nahta, CNN reports that even if theaters were to open doors, they can't operate in full capacity, as they would be required to keep social-distancing norms in mind.
"If you're selling tickets based on social distancing, you're reducing your capacity because for every seat you sell, you keep one vacant. If your capacity is 50%, it will not support the huge film budgets," Nahta told the media house.
Further, the analyst added that big-budget movies with A-list stars such as Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan rely heavily on audience that resides out of the country. "Overseas revenues for big Hindi films form a huge component of the total revenue," Nahta informed. This implies that even if theaters do open up back home, a lot would still depend on lockdown situation abroad.
In yet another first for the Indian movie industry, top guns, both actors as well as directors, could be expected to take pay cuts. This is so because in India, a major portion of a movie's budget goes to its lead stars.
The impact of the pandemic on the movie business first started showing in early March. Tiger Shroff-starrer third installment in the money-minting Baaghi franchise was the first one to bite the dust. Soon after its release, people started self-isolating and theaters announced indefinite closure. The film had to settle for a relatively disastrous Rs. 93 crore due to the unprecedented turn of events.
After Baaghi 3, it was late actor Irrfan Khan's Angrezi Medium which suffered from the COVID-19 aftermath. The movie, released theatrically on March 13, could not earn more than Rs. 10 crore, and was out for online streaming in less than one month after that.
Those producers who were lucky enough to have release dates in late March or April understood the gravity of the situation, and started delaying their films. Some of the most-anticipated projects of the year, including Akshay Kumar's cop movie Sooryavanshi, Dibakar Banerjee's Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, Ranveer Singh-starrer sports drama 83, and Varun Dhawan's comedy Coolie No. 1 got indefinitely postponed.
While the long-term effect of the pandemic on Indian cinema remains to be seen, films might just change as we know them. It is a reasonable guess that there will be more movies getting a direct-to-digital release, and more A-list actors may reach our streaming platforms.