Distributors are comfortable as cinema halls can now function with greater than 50 per cent occupancy

Cinegoers have reasons to cheer; looks like after a long wait one would finally be able to see big-ticket releases in theatres. Among the fresh guidelines, cinemas can operate with increased capacity, as opposed to 50 per cent allowed till now, from February onwards. “It sure is a great move to finally bring footfall back to cinemas,” says distributor Raj Juneja. He sees a spate of releases after mid-February in Hindi as well as English. “Producers, who have been concerned about the fate of films, as audience shied away from cinemas, can now breathe easy. At Elante, we witnessed families who would rather watch a movie together than sit apart.”

Punjabi turf

As for the Punjabi film industry, he says, “So far we are hoping for a rocking start with Puaada, which is set to hit the theatres on March 11.” Starring Ammy Virk and Sonam Bajwa, the film will be released by Zee Studios worldwide. “Puaada has star power, an engaging script and going by the music and Zee’s backing, it would instil confidence amongst Punjabi filmmakers to finally put up their films for release,” he adds.

Producer Mani Dhaliwal has a Punjabi film, Paani Ch Madhaani, starring Gippy Grewal and Neeru Bajwa, lined up. He says, “It is welcome news for cinema-lovers that the government is thinking about increasing the occupancy in cinema halls. One big movie banner must come forward to make the public believe they can be back — be it Bollywood, Hollywood, Tollywood or Pollywood. Since superstars attract more audience, it is highly likely a Salman Khan movie could do the trick. Also, the vaccine will cut down the fear of families.”

Mutual benefit

Rabb Da Radio producer, Manpreet Johal, believes that the cinema-OTT equation hasn’t changed with the pandemic. On the contrary, he adds, “OTT platforms have increased the popularity of cinema among the audiences. Cinema is a superlative, peerless and irreplaceable experience as compared to any other medium.” He too is looking forward to release his movie Galwakdi by March or April. “Just like restaurants, gyms and retailers are faring well, cinema will pull through,” he hopes.

Now, all eyes are set on big-ticket releases — Sooryavanshi, 83, Jayeshbhai Jordaar, Shamshera, Brahmastra, Prithviraj and Laal Singh Chaddha! — TNS 

It’s wait & watch

Leading distributor Akshaye Rathi is hopeful that the increased capacity would translate into release of the much-awaited tentpole movies. “Cinemas thrive when tentpole films release. There are Tamil, Telugu films releasing but the impact of it is not as high in the Hindi belt. Hindi films generate a king’s share of business,” Rathi said.

Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibasish Sarkar said,”We intend to bring one big film in the last week of March and first week of April. We have not yet decided what and when,” Sarkar’s company has Sooryavanshi and 83 lined up for release. Bihar-based exhibitor Vishek Chauhan opined, “The SOP (standard operating procedure) that we are expecting will not give us 100 per cent occupancy but maybe an 80-85 per cent. You can release any big film at 80 per cent occupancy. But now the ball is in Bollywood’s court.” — PTI

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