A couple of hours ago, Karan Johar confirmed what trade pundits had been speculating all day: Sooryavanshi, the tentpole cop-drama starring Akshay Kumar, Ranveer Singh, Katrina Kaif and Ajay Devgn will be indefinitely pushed from its original release date of March 24 as the Coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the country.
Last evening, the producers, Dharma Productions and Reliance Entertainment, held a last-minute meeting to finalise the fate of the action drama, one of the biggest releases of the year, which was set to open in nearly 4000 screens.
“The decision was finalised after they heard that Delhi cinemas will remain shut until March 30. Delhi remains one of the major territories for Hindi films and there was no option left but to delay the release,” a source close to the unit told HuffPost India.
While no announcement has been made on the Ranveer Singh-starrer ’83, the Kabir Khan-directorial based on India’s cricket world cup victory, sources close to the project said that a new release date will be announced soon as the postponement of Sooryavanshi is bound to have a domino effect on the other big summer releases. A major trailer launch event which was planned for ’83, in presence of the actor and the cricketers they play on screen, has been cancelled for now, Mumbai Mirror reported.
“These are tentpole releases, whose delay will screw up the release calendar of the entire year. How do you establish the cost at this point? If two big releases that had a solo release windoware now forced to come on the same day, it’s going to cost both producers massively,” trade analyst Amul Mohan of Super Cinema, told HuffPost India.
Mohan also said that among the first films to suffer is the Irrfan Khan-Radhika Madan starrer, Angrezi Medium.
“Only a week ago, there were very few cases. Now, the jump has been massive. Last week itself, Baaghi 3 saw a dip, especially in metros. With Angrezi Medium, it’s going to be catastrophic. Hindi Medium had done very well in metros. Now that the prints have been dispatched, show timings released, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to delay it,” Mohan said.
Producer Dinesh Vijan remained unavailable for comment.
“While producers have a certain cost, the biggest loses will be borne by exhibitors, who will have to bear the cost of overheads with no recovery till this blows over,” an industry expert said.
Internationally, the new Bond film, No Time To Die, was pushed from April to November while Disney’s Onward has underperformed at the box-office, while how much of it is due to the Coronavirus is anybody’s guess. Theatres in the US are still open though there’s complete shutdown in China, South Korea and Italy, some of the major markets for Hollywood films. Paramount has also pushed the release of A Quiet Place 2.
However, it isn’t just the big films that are getting affected due to the COVID19 pandemic. In a statement sent to HuffPost India, Shiladitya Bora, one of the producers on the Tillotama Shome and Vivek Gomber-starrer Sir, confirmed that they too have pushed the release.
“It’s an expensive but an unavoidable decision,” Bora said. “Our hoardings and newspaper ads are all out, stating the release date as March 20 but now we’ll have to change that. Thankfully, I was able to pursue my Mumbai vendor to stall the billboards for now.”
The makers are aiming for an April 3 release now but will take a call depending on the advisory from the Health Ministry. Pushing a film’s release date is typically expensive, Bora explained.
“A lot of money is invested in marketing. Most producers spend the most on the last 10 days. There are delivery of the prints that need to made by a certain time, so logistically, everything just goes for a toss.”
Another film that is bound to suffer majorly is YRF’s Sandeep aur Pinky Farar. While Sooryavanshi and Sir both pushed their release dates, YRF is yet to take a call the much-delayed project. Enquiries made to the studio yielded no results while a person closely attached to the movie said, “I have no idea.”
The Critics Choice Awards, which were expected to take place on March 14, too have been cancelled while Zee Cine Awards, the tickets of which were already sold, will now be a television-only event instead of a live ceremony with fans in attendance.
A slew of under-production films also stand delayed. A Netflix show, which was supposed to be shot in Bangkok, has been postponed while Salman Khan’s Radhey, which had a schedule in Dubai, too, has been postponed while Kartik Aryan’s Bhool Bhulaiyya 2, which was being shot in Lucknow, is likely to cut short their long schedule.
Sources said that the shoot of Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Sanon’s next, which was supposed to be produced by Dinesh Vijan, too might be delayed.
“Earlier, the makers were supposed to shoot in the North. Now, they’ve changed to Pune. But with the virus spreading across the country, it’s likely that their shoot will be delayed,” the source said.