The year 2020 has gone by in a flash, and the movie business has been impacted massively. While theatres still remain closed and there’s no status on when they will reopen, 2021 looks like a festival — literally. All biggies from this year have neatly taken over the festive slots next year. John Abraham will come out with the sequel to Satyameva Jayate on Eid, while Aamir Khan pushed his Laal Singh Chadha to Christmas from this year.
This year itself, makers of both Sooryavanshi and ‘83 have locked Diwali and Christmas weekends respectively.
How important are festive releases to the film industry? Shibasish Sarkar, CEO, Reliance Entertainment, explains both Bollywood and Hollywood have been after these specific release dates. “If you see, Hollywood makes announcements for Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, whenever there’s a big film, there’s a pattern. In India, that pattern is becoming more pronounced in coming days. People try to see the producers’ point of view. Currently, producers are planning on announcing films and making those subsequently. But we have to see how the whole year goes by. Even in the past you will find people who did that,” he says.
He says the industry people are living in “optimism” right now. “We are assuming by that point of time theatres will open up, and by Unlock 5, it will be announced if they are a part of that or not,” adds Sarkar.
Ajay Devgn’s Maidaan, meanwhile, has it’s eyes set on Independence Day. Trade analyst Taran Adarsh says, “Even while growing up, and when I started out in the 1980s, certain dates were always important, like August 15, Gandhi Jayanti, and of course festivals such as Diwali, Eid, Christmas. They were always very important for filmmakers even then. I distinctly remember big films releasing around festivals in those days, but there was no social media to highlight it. Now we have people announcing dates before they start shooting the film! Those dates are important. One, it is a holiday period, and people are in the moot to spend, splurge. And on these holidays, big films are always a bonus.”
For a filmmaker’s point of view, we talk to Remo D’Souza, who helmed Salman Khan’s 2018 Eid offering, Race 3. He agrees that makers and actors both try for a festive release. “They are very important for a film. You get holidays, and a proper release, people are free to come and watch the film. Makers do make it a point to aim for a festival release, and every star has their own festival booked, and they make sure it is for them,” he says.
Considering the year so far has been a damp squib for films, he maintains that festive releases next year will be “critical”. Echoing exactly the same sentiment is exhibitor Akshaye Rathi, who says that the exhibition sector faced major blows in 2020.
He says festive releases are important, “these big films have big stars more often than not, and festivals help them maximise their business. Considering how this year has been, we need a slew of blockbusters for the losses, for the survival of the exhibition sector. I really hope all top directors and actors do what it takes to maximise releases. 2021 will determine the volume of exhibition sector.”
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