With news channels flashing '1.15 COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours,' the situation our country is going through, seems rather grim. With curfews implemented, the sight of a lockdown lurks around the corner. Almost a déjà vu of the days we experienced around March, last year. Many offices, that had just about started to breathe, have been shut down once again. Everything is coming to a halt once again. And along with many industries that are hit badly, Bollywood is one amongst the worst hit. The lull in the theatrical releases lasted for almost a year until the theatre owners and film distributers appealed to Salman Khan to release his film, Radhe. It was then that the first movie release was announced by Salman, keeping in mind the aftermaths of the collapsing economy of the entertainment industry due to the pandemic. Promptly, others followed suit.
There was hope, once again. COVID-19 had thrown a spanner in the wheels of major film shoots in Btown. But what's even more worrying is the fact that big budget films like Salman Khan's Radhe, Ranveer Singh's '83, the multi-lingual RRR and others, which were ready and waiting in the wings to be released, are now in doldrums. Meanwhile, Akshay Kumar's Sooryavanshi is once again pushed ahead indefinitely.
Although there is no shift in release dates of the other films announced just yet, the films will hit the theatres as per schedule. And even if that happens, the media and critics will now have to look at the economics of the box-office with a new perspective. Like for films like Roohi and Mumbai Saga, which released during the pandemic last month, made approximately 22 crores and 12 crores respectively, which in normal times would have collected five times more the amount. Which means their collections if adjusted to the inflammation would amount to 100 crores and 60 crores approximately. It's just like talking about the all time box-office collection of the most successful Indian film, Sholay, which amounts to Rs. 15 crore. But we all know the earnings if adjusted to today's day would be humoungous.
Given the unprecedented situation, a complete re-orientation of trade barometers is clearly the need of the hour. Even without entering the coveted 100 crore club, the film can be a hit. And Salman Khan's Radhe, will prove to be that defining film which will set the benchmark for the box-office success of any film in times of COVID-19. If Radhe makes, say, Rs. 50 crore, during the pandemic, it equals to the film making Rs. 250-300 crores worth of business in normal times. Radhe will set the benchmark to gauge the success ratio of a release, this year long.
The successes of films releasing in the coming days, with a mere 50% occupancy, would be calculated with a new barometer. With the COVID-19 fear instilled deep in the audiences, footfalls will be much lesser. And it will take an entire year, until the beginning of 2022 at least for things to go back on their feet, for people to gain confidence and enter movie halls without any hesitation. Until then, a film's success and box-office collections will be measured differently.
We hope the scenario changes sooner and our films sky rocket into the Rs. 100, 200 and 300 crore clubs. Till then, we will have to wait and watch what's the new reading of success with Salman Khan's Radhe, Akshay Kumar's Sooryavanshi and Ranveer Singh's '83. The bottom line is that the film trade will have to adopt new looking glasses to measure box office success in times of COVID-19 because if any big film releases in the initial phase when theatres reopen for a second time, we all should cheer even if they cross Rs. 50 crore as we are now looking at a new trade paradigm for some time.
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