With several long-held big-budget tentpoles and pan-India films finally set to hit the theatres, PVR Pictures CEO Kamal Gianchandani predicts a monumental increase in the number of footfalls and a record number of movie tickets sales in the next financial year. 2021 is going to be a big year for blockbuster movies including Sooryavanshi, ’83, Radhe, KGF: Chapter 2, RRR, Maidaan, Liger, Radhe Shyam, among others.
Excerpt from the interview:
What is your outlook on the current state of the exhibition industry?
Films have been slow to come by but Tenet which came out in December did extremely well. Wonder Woman 1984 did very well for us. Master did fantastic numbers even with 50 per cent capacity. One Telugu film called Uppena recently and with absolutely new star-cast has broken all previous records. So, signals are there that the public is dying to be back in cinemas. All they need is good quality, big films, big stars, exciting stories, and the good news is that in March we have got Roohi, Godzilla, and King Kong. For Eid, we have Radhe and Satyamev Jayate 2. Plenty of pan-India films in multi-languages are ready for release including Pushpa, KGF: Chapter 2, RRR, Rajinikanth’s next film etc. We have got an exciting line-up and I believe that in numbers’ admissions that we’ll see in the next financial year would surprise a lot of people.
So, could one safely say that the second half of 2021 will be brighter than the first half?
Not just that, it’ll also be higher than 2019-2020.
With the Golden Globe awards ceremony and Oscar nominations around the corner, how is the international content line-up for the upcoming months looking like?
PVR Pictures has been fortunate that our films are getting a lot of accolades and critical support during the awards season. The Father has been nominated in four categories including Best Drama Motion Picture at the Golden Globes. The Mauritanian has received Golden Globe nods for Best Actor– Drama and Best Supporting Actress. These are also the frontrunners for Oscar nominations that will be announced in March. So, I think we are having an exciting and happy awards season and we are looking forward to releasing these films and presenting them to our audiences.
How do you see the decision of some production houses to release all of their 2021 line-ups simultaneously in theatres and on OTT platforms? Also, Master had its OTT premiere within a month of its theatrical release. Do you see this move as a threat to the box office revenue?
Release simultaneously on theatrical and streaming platforms is a very international trend. In India, we are not impacted by this at all. Only one studio has taken this decision which is Warner Bros. HBO Max is their streaming partner which is also part of the same group and it’s not available in India so we don’t get affected by this. As far as Master, what has happened should be seen as an exception to the rule. Producers are committed to following a certain window and which has been a sacrosanct factor for a long time which has benefitted all stakeholders.
So, you are saying that early OTT premieres don’t pose a threat to cinemas?
No, not at all. In fact, I see streaming platforms increasing a positive virtuous cycle because all the money that streaming platform is providing to filmmakers and studios is being re-invested in bigger and better films which release in theatres. Because ultimately, you are looking for a larger than life experience in theatres and for which you need special effects and films which are mounted on a heavy scale. Thanks to streaming platforms, producers are in a position to do that. So we see them as thriving and co-existing in the future.
Do you think the population has to be largely vaccinated for movie-going to return?
Vaccination is important but I think people around us are taking precautions. All business establishments including us and our peers and other members of multiplex and single-screen fraternity are following all SOPs in terms of masking, social distancing and hygiene. We see absolutely no problem and the proof of the fact is that not a single virus case has been detected back to cinemas, not just in India but anywhere in the world. So, the reality is that cinemas are extremely safe as a venue for customers to visit and entertain themselves.