According to a report by LocalCircles, the percentage of moviegoers will triple in the next 60 days compared to December 2021.

By Akanksha Nagar

The ongoing Holi festival weekend — coupled with most states and Union Territories now 100% used in cinemas — has provided a glimmer of hope for movie exhibitors and production studios. Movie buffs are looking forward to Akshay Kumar’s Bachchan Pandey, which will hit theaters this weekend on 2500-3000 screens alongside the recently released money spinner, The Kashmir Files. With more big-budget films including RRR: Roudram Ranam Rudhiram (starring Jr Ntr, Ajay Devgn and Alia Bhatt) and the Aamir Khan starrer Mogul lined up for the next two months, the industry is likely to get a further boost.

According to a report by LocalCircles, the percentage of moviegoers will triple in the next 60 days compared to December 2021.

In addition to the duopoly of Bachchan Pandey and The Kashmir Files this weekend, releases over the past two weeks — including Alia Bhatt starrer Gangubai Kathiawadi and Prabhas’ film Radhe Shyam — have contributed to a renewed interest in cinema.

But in the current Holi weekend, it remains to be seen which film will dominate. Karan Taurani, senior vice president of Elara Capital, points out that since Bachchan Pandey’s content is seemingly unconvincing, it could be lagging behind competitor The Kashmir Files which, according to media reports, has exceeded Rs 78 crore in till collections of up to two days back, and is slated to report lifetime box office collections worth Rs 125-130 crore. “Bachchan Pandey will not be enough of Rs 120 crore, and will probably end up collecting around Rs 70 crore,” Taurani notes.

While the Holi weekend may not be the biggest draw of 2022, experts say it could be enough to offset the impact of the Omicron wave.

However, despite most states operating at 100% occupancy rates and seeing audiences comparable to pre-Covid levels, two key regions, Punjab and West Bengal, have yet to be fully occupied. Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat together contribute about 65% of the total cash register collection in India.

“When it comes to visitor numbers, the industry saw a 60% recovery from pre-Covid levels in the third quarter of FY22,” Taurani said. “However, as a result of the Omicron outbreak early this year, collections from the current financial quarter will decrease by 50%. However, this will be revived by 90% with the movies coming.”

With Covid-19 cases currently at an all-time low and with a robust content pipeline ahead, analysts predict that Q1 of FY23 will be among the best for the box office business this year. Although, in order to attract more audience, Taurani says the obvious: good quality content is what will be the big draw. “I don’t think we’re in this age where only an actor’s face draws audiences in movie theaters; it’s the content, whether we’re talking true stories, biopics, or large-scale content like Sooryavanshi and The Batman, that has the potential to reap footprints,” he adds.

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