As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadly virus is fast turning into a potential threat for showbiz and its effects can be seen in the entertainment industry already. Bollywood films are reportedly delaying release, stars are skipping multi-city tours and shooting locations are being shifted. Meanwhile, the box office business of movies continues to bear the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak.
Most recently, Tiger Shroff and Shraddha Kapoor starrer Baaghi 3's box office business took a hit after coronavirus scare spread in India. Opening at Rs 17.5 crore, the film is the highest Bollywood opener of 2020, but the collections were expected to be much higher. Director Ahmed Khan had said in an interview with PTI that he would have expected Baaghi 3 to open at Rs 30 crore but he was happy with Friday collections given the coronavirus scare.
The next two months are crucial for Bollywood with several big titles lined up for the release. The fear of coronavirus can hit box office collections of Irrfan Khan's Angrezi Medium (March 13), Akshay Kumar's Sooryavanshi (March 24), Parineeti Chopra and Arjun Kapoor's Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (March 20) and the Ranveer Singh-starrer 83 (April 10).
Other big films slated for release in the first quarter include Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer Gulabo Sitabo, Varun Dhawan-Sara Ali Khan's Coolie No 1, Salman Khan's action film Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, Akshay Kumar's Laxmmi Bomb, Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji's Bunty Aur Babli 2 and Kangana Ranaut's Thalaivi.
Meanwhile, Haathi Mere Saathi, Janhvi Kapoor starrers Gunjan Saxena biopic, Roohi Afzana and other films like Ludo and Chehre are also lined up for release in the first half.
The next big Bollywood release is Akshay Kumar starrer Sooryavanshi, which is projected to have an opening of Rs 30 crore. However, in a virus-less market, the same figure for the Rohit Shetty directorial would have been higher, at estimated Rs 36 crore, reports The Hindu. The report also predicts a 15-20 percent impact on the revenues of big-ticket Hindi films in the coming months.
As the anxiety around the coronavirus outbreak is growing among the people in India, they are seemingly deciding to stay indoors instead of stepping out in places of public gatherings. This makes cinema halls a natural target. A report in Business Standard states that usually, malls on the occasion of Holi witnessed a 20-25 percent increase in the footfalls. However, this year it was not the same.
Elsewhere, movie theaters are closed across China and Italy and in part of France, reports Reuters. If the coronavirus keeps people at home or shuts more theaters, it would threaten box office receipts during showbiz’s most lucrative season.
The coronavirus scare is affecting the shooting schedules of films as well. Filmfare reports that Akshay Kumar's Prithviraj and Kartik Aaryan's Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 have been changing locations due to coronavirus scare. Karan Johar's upcoming directorial Takht and Salman Khan starrer Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai have also been delayed due to the coronavirus scare.
Hollywood studio executives are also closely watching the spread of the coronavirus and the upcoming film calendar. Summer blockbuster season is scheduled to kick off May 1 with Disney’s Marvel adventure Black Widow, followed by a new Fast and Furious spectacle from Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures, a Top Gun sequel from ViacomCBS Inc’s Paramount Pictures, and other big-budget action flicks.
The release of James Bond film No Time To Die and Sony Pictures' Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway have already been rescheduled for later months in the year.
Box office slowdown can mean more profit for streaming platforms, and it will be interesting to witness how they seize the moment.
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