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Last Updated 20.05.2024 | 8:15 AM IST
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Bade Miyan Chote Miyan-Maidaan debacle effect: Galaxy Cinema, Mumbai temporarily shut down; Agra single screen starts selling tickets for just Rs. 30; exhibitors SLAM Bollywood filmmakers for not releasing their films during Lok Sabha Elections 2024

en Bollywood News Bade Miyan Chote Miyan-Maidaan debacle effect: Galaxy Cinema, Mumbai temporarily shut down; Agra single screen starts selling tickets for just Rs. 30; exhibitors SLAM Bollywood filmmakers for not releasing their films during Lok Sabha Elections 2024

During the Covid pandemic, the restrictions on public gatherings led to the closure of cinema halls. When the cinema halls were allowed to open, they faced a tough time due to a lack of releases. But once the flow of releases began in full force from February 2022, no one expected in their wildest dreams that they’ll face the issue of lack of content once again. But that’s exactly what’s happening in cinemas across the Hindi-speaking markets right now. And the sad part is that it is self-induced by the industry and not caused by external factors beyond one’s control as it happened in 2020 and 2021.

Bade Miyan Chote Miyan-Maidaan debacle effect: Galaxy Cinema, Mumbai temporarily shut down; Agra single screen starts selling tickets for just Rs. 30; exhibitors SLAM Bollywood filmmakers for not releasing their films during Lok Sabha Elections 2024

A lot was expected from the big Eid releases – Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and Maidaan – but sadly, both bombed. The last week’s releases, Do Aur Do Pyaar and Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2, also failed to take off. Holdover films like Madgaon Express, Crew and Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire continue to do well but these films have almost exhausted their run.

The coming Friday will see the release of Aayush Sharma-starrer Ruslaan. There’s no release scheduled for May 3 after The Sabarmati Report got postponed due to censor issues. Rajkummar Rao-starrer Srikanth and Deepak Tijori’s Tipppsy arrive on May 10 while Manoj Bajpayee-starrer Bhaiyya Ji will try its luck on May 24. Even May 17 is a vacant spot and industry insiders believe that a couple of mid-sized films, starring A-listers, can easily be released in this period and score big time.

Last year, a similar situation arose in May, but the exhibition sector survived because of the Hollywood hits Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 and Fast X and sleeper Bollywood blockbuster, The Kerala Story. This May, the Hollywood releases are not as big, though Monkey Man might surprise, provided the CBFC clears it on time.

The no-show by Bollywood has already started affecting the cinema sector. The 800-seater Galaxy, which is a part of Mumbai’s G7 multiplex, also known as Gaiety-Galaxy, is shut from Friday, April 19. Until Thursday, Galaxy was playing Ajay Devgn-starrer Maidaan. But since it failed to attract a sizeable crowd, it was accommodated from Friday in the smaller audi of Gemini, consisting of 238 seats, that too with just 2 shows a day.

When contacted, Manoj Desai, executive director, G7 multiplex and Maratha Mandir Cinema, thundered, “Kya karte hum? No film is working. Both the films bombed badly. Jhatka lag gaya humein.”

As per sources in the exhibition sector, some more theatres will down shutters for a month, or multiplexes will keep a couple of screens shut from next week onwards. Reportedly, Eros Cinema, which recently reopened as an IMAX property, is also shut for a week.

A source told Bollywood Hungama, “To begin with, most theatres have slashed rates considerably. Many have also decided to play shows after 11:00 am or 12 noon. There’s no point in having early morning shows because it’s sure to get cancelled. If no film manages to surprise in the subsequent weeks, expect cinemas to scale down operations.”

A look at the prices on the popular ticket booking app, BookMyShow, shows that several cinema halls are charging less than Rs. 150 for all shows. Theatres like Movietime Malad, Movietime Dahisar and Movietime Star City are charging just Rs. 100 from patrons. All theatres of Mukta A2 are selling tickets for flat Rs. 110 from morning to night. Other theatres like Chitra, Gold Cinema Dadar and Inox Neelyog Ghatkopar are also selling tickets for Rs. 110. The national chains are yet to reduce prices and sources comment that they might do soon. Even the lack of morning shows can be seen in several theatres. Paradise Cinema in Mahim, shockingly, is playing its first show at 3:30 pm.

In a shocking instance, Rajeev Cinema in Agra has decided to price its tickets for just Rs. 30 and Rs. 50. Joginder Mahajan, distributor and general secretary of the Motion Pictures Association in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, said, "They used to charge Rs. 50 and Rs. 80 normally and Rs. 80 and Rs. 100 for blockbuster films. They had to resort to price cut as enough films are not releasing. And if films are releasing, they are not attracting the public."

Vishek Chauhan, owner of Roopbani Cinema in Purnia, Bihar, said, “So many exhibitors are calling up and asking me, ‘Should we shut down for two months?’. Kharche kahan se niklenge? At least, the theatres would save on the electricity bill by shutting down.”

When asked why he’s not playing an early morning show, he hit back, “Kya faayda morning show ka? There’s no demand for any film. This week, we’ll manage with 20-30 people per show. But what would we do next week? And what about the week after that?”

Film exhibitor and distributor Akshaye Rathi confirmed, “Since not enough films are releasing, exhibitors are trying to optimize the operational costs by reducing the number of shows. With every show running, you need to keep the AC on, and it adds to your bill. Hence, these steps are being taken because, without content, it doesn’t make sense to run cinemas and add to losses.”

Election theory fails to convince theatre owners
Vishek Chauhan charges Rs. 200 for blockbuster films and Rs. 150-180 for popular films. At present, he’s charging just Rs. 100 for the shows of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and Maidaan. He said, “Some theatres are still playing films at Rs. 250 or Rs. 300. They are not even able to sell 1 or 2 tickets. All their shows are getting cancelled. I’d rather reduce prices and attract some footfall. Even if 30-40 people are there in a show, they’ll obviously buy food and beverages. After all, abhi toh survival mode ka baat ho raha hai. All theatres are underwater.”

He rued, “And there are no significant releases this week or the next week. I don’t understand the logic of the film industry. They claim that films would not work right now. On what basis can they say that?”

Industry experts have confirmed that the filmmakers are preferring to skip releasing their films in May due to the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections 2024. The exhibitors, however, are not buying this theory. Vishek Chauhan retorted, “So during elections, do people just watch election-related news all day? Would they not watch films at all?”

A duty manager in a multiplex said on condition of anonymity, “I have been in this industry for two decades and election has never been a factor to stay away from cinema. During the previous Lok Sabha Elections, Avengers: Endgame released and set new records. Kalank opened well while De De Pyaar De also did a decent job. During the 2014 elections, 2 States collected Rs. 100 crores while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 emerged as a success. And 20 years ago, Main Hoon Na was released in the middle of the election season and was a big hit, wasn’t it?”

Akshaye Rathi explained why he doesn’t believe in the election theory saying, “Elections, at any given point in time, don’t affect the entire country. On any day out of the 7 phases, it takes place only in certain regions. The rest of the country is operating like any other given day.”

Kiritbhai T Vaghasia, who runs The Friday Cinema multiplex in Surat, wondered, “What is the connection between elections and watching films? At least in our city, I don’t see such craze for elections that people would skip going to theatres.”

He has also kept the base price for the films on the weekdays. “We have reduced the rate because we know that we are hardly going to get footfalls. We hardly drew an audience in the weekends; so it’s obvious that the weekday collections will be even lower,” he said.

Manoj Desai, too, rubbished off the argument, “It’s (the election factor is) all nonsensical. We are fed up. Exhibitors are the worst affected. Producers make a moolah by selling his film to the distributor. The distributor then sells it to us. And we suffer the most.”

Opportunity lost
Akshaye Rathi appealed to Bollywood filmmakers to take advantage of the dry period. He said, “I don’t think most producers will be able to get a bunch of gap weeks like these ever again this year. So, I really think a lot of opportunities are being wasted, especially for mid-segment films which should be coming in big numbers at this point in time. Many of them are ready but are staying wary of the scenario of the uncertainty at the box office. The only way this uncertainty will end is when films are released and do well. By not entering the sea, your ship can’t cross over. I hope some filmmakers show some conviction and belief in what they have made and set sail in the box office arena. I am sure their effort will be rewarded in the right way if their films are nice.”

Vishek Chauhan remarked, “May is a super lucrative period. Schools and colleges are shut; students are free. It’s a time when blockbusters arrive usually.”

He also fears that after elections, there will be too many releases, resulting in show-sharing issues. “Now there’ll be overcrowding of films. Clashes are inevitable and it would add to our woes as we would be forced to give more shows to one film over another,” he said.

To conclude
Vishek Chauhan believed that the election theory shows the industry’s insecurity. “Bollywood producers are looking at excuses to not release the films,” he said. “80 to 90% of them are afraid of the box office. This is because box office se unka rishta pichle 10 saal mein toot chukka hai. They make films keeping in mind OTT platforms. We had heard of filmmakers not releasing their films during pre-Eid or during IPL. And now comes the reason of elections. What signal does this give to the exhibition sector?”

He also argued, “South hasn’t stopped releasing films. How can Bollywood do a blackout? At least they could have released mid-sized films.”

He signed off by remarking that we don’t have enough stars to pull audiences to cinemas, and thus the state of Bollywood at present. “Barring Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, no actor in Bollywood has a draw. Period. The rest of the actors are all content-dependent. Agar content theek aayega, toh hi opening acchi lagegi. Warna nahin lagegi,” he said.

Also Read: Govinda said to be in talks with Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena to fight the Lok Sabha elections 2024; Swara Bhasker said to be on Congress’s wish list


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