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Box office clutter likely to hurt single-screen business

Many theatres have to give up one of the competing titles and the tussle during long weekends impacts businesses of all films
Box office clutter likely to hurt single-screen business
Cinema owners down south are fearing the box office clash during the Sankranthi weekend in January between Chiranjeevi’s Waltair Veerayya and Balakrishna’s Veera Simha Reddy, two Telugu films, apart from two Tamil biggies, Vijay’s Varisu and Ajith’s Thunivu. Mint
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Last Updated: 10.20 PM, Nov 03, 2022

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A series of big-ticket releases may result in a box office clash and hurt the prospects of small single-screen theatres.

While Uunchai, Drishyam 2 and Bhediya are scheduled to release in November, Hollywood blockbuster Avatar: The Way of Water is set to hit cinemas, days before Cirkus, starring Ranveer Singh in December. The clash between Ram Setu and Thank God this Diwali proved that single theatres are often forced to opt for one film and are arm-twisted for better shows and timings.

In case of two-screen cinemas, the fight is always for bigger auditoriums. Many theatres have to give up one of the competing titles and the tussle during long holiday weekends impacts businesses of all films.

Cinema owners down south are fearing the box office clash during the Sankranthi weekend in January between Chiranjeevi’s Waltair Veerayya and Balakrishna’s Veera Simha Reddy, two Telugu films, apart from two Tamil biggies, Vijay’s Varisu and Ajith’s Thunivu.

Prabhas’ mythological film Adipurush, which is also slated for the same weekend, is likely to opt out of the race.

“Multiple big films releasing on the same day is not good for anyone—producers, distributors or exhibitors, since collections of all movies are hit,” said Pravin Chalikwar, director of Priti Cinemas in Maharashtra’s Parbani. According to him, it was a mistake to release action film Vikram Vedha and period drama Ponniyin Selvan-1 on the same day in September, as many single screens had to opt for only one and lost business from the other film.

“Had there been a gap, both could have managed higher collections from single screen theatres. It was the same case this Diwali, with Ram Setu and Thank God, when we also had Hollywood’s Black Adam and a fourth Marathi title, Har Har Mahadev,” Chalikwar said.

In small towns, you cannot expect a family of four to spend 1,000-1,500 on tickets apart from food and beverage every week. “There is no way they will spend 6,000- 7,000 in a month on two films, especially when multiple OTT subscriptions are offered at reasonable rates,” he added.

A two-screen cinema owner seeking anonymity said it was common for film distributors to arm-twist small businesses to give their films more shows, and better timings when two big-ticket films are released at the same time or an old film is running successfully.

“We just couldn’t put out show timings for Ram Setu and Thank God until 12:00 on the night before as we were still in discussions. It’s a nuisance for us, including the audience. That’s why a lot of single screens, especially in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh opted to ignore Ram Setu,” he added.

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