Delhi theatre lockdown more bad news for Bollywood, ‘Sooryavanshi’ pushed indefinitely

The Delhi government on Thursday closed down all cinema halls in the city till March 31, the latest blow to the film industry reeling under the impact of the coronavirus outbreak with major releases getting pushed indefinitely and all promotional activities at a halt.
With hundreds of screens in Delhi, a major entertainment hub and a vital source of profits for the industry, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s announcement led to consternation in Bollywood.
The release of the much-awaited “Sooryavanshi”, starring Akshay Kumar with extended cameos by Ajay Devgn and Ranveer Singh, has been postponed, Rohit Shetty Picturez said in a statement without specifying another date.
The filmmakers said they had taken the decision to postpone the release due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 “keeping in mind the health and safety” of its “beloved audience”.
“Sooryavanshi”, which was supposed to release on March 24, would be back when “the time is right”, the filmmakers said in a statement shared on Twitter by Akshay.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh said the postponement of “Sooryavanshi” will have a ripple effect on Bollywood’s carefully planned release calendar.
“The impact of coronavirus will not only be here but also in international markets. It’s already there to see. Our films release on a wide scale across Australia, UK, Europe and all those markets are severely affected. There is huge cause of concern,” Adarsh told PTI.
“If ‘Sooryavanshi’ gets pushed, there will be a ripple effect. Everyone’s just waiting and watching. There are huge stakes involved,” he added.
“Sooryavanshi” is not the only casualty.
The release of Southern star Mohanlal’s “Marakkar Lion of the Arabian Sea” this month has been postponed and there is uncertainty around next month’s releases such as the Tamil films “Master” and “Soorarai Pottru”.
Shiladitya Bora, producer of “Sir”, also announced that the Rohena Gera-directed film has been postponed.
“Bearing in mind public health concerns & the advisory from the Health Ministry, we have decided to postpone the release of SIR. We look forward to sharing our film with our home audience in India and will announce an updated release date asap,” he tweeted.
As exhibitors began to assess their losses, industry sources said the release of Kabir Khan’s “83” will also be delayed.
The trailer release of “83”, which has Ranveer Singh playing Kapil Dev, was scheduled for March 11 but it never happened. The film is scheduled for release on April 10 and this could also get pushed.
“The trailer event was planned but we didn’t go ahead with it because of the current scenario. The team hasn’t decided anything regarding the release date of ’83’,” a source said.
Kejriwal’s move to shut cinema halls, which follows the Jammu and Kashmir administration and the Kerala government’s decisions to put theatres under lockdown, immediately affects Irrfan starrer “Angrezi Medium” that was supposed to release on Friday.
The other films in the theatres included “Thappad”, “Baaghi 3” and “Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhaan”, which will all be impacted.
Film exhibitor Akshay Rathi said Tiger Shroff starrer “Baaghi 3” was the first film to release amid the breakout of the virus and the panic around it has impacted the collections.
“‘It has got good response in smaller towns but not much in metros,” Rathi told PTI in Mumbai.
“The state government of Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir have given directives to shut down theatres but nothing has been conveyed to us in Maharashtra. This is a very sensitive issue. The senior officials have to take a sensible approach in such a scenario as livelihood and money both will be affected,” he added.
PVR Ltd issued a statement saying it fully respects the decisions of the Kerala, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir administrations to shut down all cinema halls till March 31 as it has utmost concern for the safety and wellbeing of each of its guests.
“We believe that this is a temporary situation and remain buoyant about the film business in India, and our own growth prospects,” it said. As the coronavirus scare spreads and fewer people go to halls to watch films, ticket aggregating website BookMyShow said the health and safety of customers is of paramount importance to them.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and request all consumers to stay safe. We will take all necessary precautions to upkeep consumers’ safety and health across our entertainment offerings,” a spokesperson for BookMyShow said in a statement.
Among the major events postponed are FICCI Frames 2020, the India International Film Festival (IIFA) and the Lotus Makeup India Fashion Week (LMIFW) According to the Union Health Ministry, the number of coronavirus patients in the country has risen to 74.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared a global coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic had a fallout in the West too.
Hollywood star Tom Hanks on Wednesday confirmed that he and actor-wife Rita Wilson tested positive for the coronavirus in Australia where they had gone for the shooting of an untitled Elvis Presley biopic. The shooting of the film has been suspended.
James Bond film “No Time to Die” has been pushed to November release from April while the production of “Mission Impossible 7” has been put on hold.
The fate of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival hangs in balance with the organisers monitoring the situation.
Festival president Pierre Lescure said he is “reasonably optimistic” about going ahead with the movie gala at present, according to The Guardian, which quoted French publication Le Figaro.
“We remain reasonably optimistic in the hope that the peak of the epidemic will be reached at the end of March and that we will breathe a little better in April,” Lescure said.
“But we are not oblivious. If not, we will cancel,” he added.
Netflix sources this week said the global tour of their film “Extraction” was called off in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.