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The very long wait for Reliance Entertainment may finally be coming to an end. Reportedly, preparations are afoot to release its Sooryavanshi either in the last week of March (on the occasion of Holi) or the first week of April. Although no formal announcement about the theatrical release date has been made so far, it may happen within the next four to six days, it is learnt from reliable sources. Of course, Reliance is hopeful that all state governments would, by March-end, permit cinemas in their states to operate at full capacity. So far, only a few states have allowed cinemas to function at 100% capacity. It may be mentioned here that the Maharashtra government has not granted any such permission to cinemas in the state. It doesn’t need to be underlined that Bombay is the nerve centre of the Hindi film industry and hence cent per cent occupancy in cinemas of Bombay and Maharashtra is a pre-condition for any big film to release in the theatres.
It is learnt that Reliance is already in talks with the national multiplex chains about two major points — revenue sharing and exclusive theatrical window. While the production house is demanding much more than the usual 50% share in net box-office collections in the first week of release of Sooryavanshi and proportionately more in the subsequent weeks too, it is also seeking reduction of the exclusive 8-week theatrical window before the film can be released on the satellite/digital platform. Of course, neither the Multiplex Association of India nor its major constituents (national multiplex chains of PVR, Inox, Cinepolis and Carnival) have agreed to the demands so far.
It may be mentioned here that Reliance Entertainment has suffered a loss of Rs. 25 crore in Sooryavanshi alone on account of just interest on capital because of the delay in its release, necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic lockdown for almost an entire year and because the production house chose to wait for cinemas to reopen rather than premiering the big-budget film on an OTT platform like many other producers did during the lockdown. If not the entire Rs. 25 crore, it would be Reliance’s endeavour to recover at least a good part of that loss from the cinemas as it could have avoided that huge loss if it had opted for a streaming-platform premiere. Besides, one doesn’t know how long it will take for the public to return to the cinemas in large numbers. Thus far, attendance in cinemas has been pathetically poor as the public is still wary of sitting in enclosed spaces for fear of contracting the coronavirus. Also, cinemas have been operating at only 50% capacity ever since they reopened in October/November last year. What’s more, the scene abroad is also not very conducive for new films, especially the big-budget fares, to release. Cinemas in the UK are shut because of the new lockdown which is expected to continue till July this year. Although cinemas in the USA are functioning, attendance is pretty low as people are scared of contracting the coronavirus.
If all things go according to plan, Reliance’s Sooryavanshi will come in March-end or early April and so, it would be the first big-budget extravaganza to hit the screens after a year. Reliance’s other big-budget film, 83, will probably release in June. Obviously, the production house is trying to get the same terms for 83 as for Sooryavanshi. It may be mentioned here that Sooryavanshi had been scheduled for release in March 2020 while 83 had been announced for release in April last year. In the new scenario, Sooryavanshi will release in March/April while 83 will come in June. In between the two, Salman Khan’s Radhe will hit the screens on 13th May on the occasion of Eid.
An inside source tells Information that if the multiplexes do not heed the demands of Reliance about increased revenue share and a shorter exclusively-cinema window, the production house may think inn terms of premiering both its films on OTT platforms. In other words, the company has decided that come what may, Sooryavanshi and 83 have to be released now. The effort will, of course, be to release both the films in cinemas but if those efforts fail, there will be an announcement for their premieres on streaming platforms.