How COVID-19 has changed the popcorn and 70mm experience

It is bad timing for all the regional players be it the producers or the presenters as the common goal for any filmmaker is to see his film released to the public at large writes Akshay Bardapurkar, Film Producer.


As the world is grappling with the sudden onset of COVID 19 and its effects where all types of industries are suffering a setback as it suddenly appeared and attacked us like a Frankenstein monster without any notice. Knowing fully that no epidemic or catastrophe ever comes with a warning, however, the Film industry has always been an area which has never been hampered by an epidemic or a pandemic. In the past, be it swine flu, or plague or any similar situation, maximum what we have witnessed is bandhs from various political organizations which lasted not more than 48 hours, who knew that 21 Days forced Bandh was in the reckoning due to the horrible Corona Virus.

What's interesting is that never in the history of mankind we have ever seen such a situation and we are witnessing the Lockdown effect, what is going to be interesting and more than that dangerous are the after-effects of the COVID 19.

I am not aware whether I should call myself fortunate or unfortunate because I have many "Firsts" to my record, My first Film is AB aani CD which has the legendary Amitabh Bachchan playing an important role. The First film which went off the theatres on the same day of the release and the first Marathi film which witnessed and heard a word called "Pandemic". We used to say that this film is going to be a pan world release only to realize that it ended in a pandemic sort of a scenario. It's not only us but a bit close to about 9 films which have suffered huge losses and I can put the amount worth in bracket of at least 80cr as the other films which were to release along with AB aani CD were all big banner films, even one of them named Vijeta, was produced by Mr.Subhash Ghai. Marathi cinema has a relatively less impact than a Hindi or a South film only because the audience is restricted more or less to Maharashtra, also it's unlike Telugu or Tamil film which sees a huge release pattern across the Globe so the aftermath of COVID 19 is going to be more dangerous to Hindi and other Regional films compared to losses than Marathi which is restricted to Maharashtra and in certain cases some parts of the world.

The reason being that Marathi cinema works in a simple pattern, unlike Hindi wherein the producers are the presenters in most of the cases, and hence they consider the entire project right from the muhurat to film release as a part of the Project. Hence it is easy to pause, abort, and release or re-release as all controls are in a single hand. Now in the case of Marathi cinema 99% of the cases the makers of the film normally do not release it and have a releasing partner on board not because they want to add a bigger brand to their product but due to dearth or lesser money, hence the whole film process is split into two parts.

One is to make a film and the other is to release the film, so the one who makes the film is relatively safe as the primary investment secured by selling it to different platforms, i.e. Satellite, Digital, and other rights. What happens is the presenter's share of profits are mostly dependent on the Box Office Collection and in case such of present scenario, they get hammered and suffer badly due to losses.

But surely it's bad timing for all the regional players be it the producers or the presenters as the common goal for any filmmaker is to see his film released to the public at large and with the records, regional films barring a couple of languages haven't done very well on OTT's. Hence it's high time that regional cinemas should look into the pattern of film making. This situation is an eye-opener where the whole release process should be revisited and one has to make sure that no one suffers by any kind of disaster or gets singled out in this type of apathy.

However, like any film story, the end would not be so bad as there is a ray of hope that people would come and throng to theatres citing extreme boredom and isolation. Post this COVID lockdown, one needs and would long for the experience of Popcorn and a 70 mm effect.

Tags assigned to this article:
cinema regional cinema ott COVID-19

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