By Joginder Tuteja
The entire scheduling for 2020 has turned topsy-turvy, what with corona pandemic throwing a spanner in Bollywood’s release calendar. It all seemed rather rosy when the year kick-started with a bang, what with Tanhaji – The Unsung Warrior turning out to be a mega blockbuster. The first release of 2020 went on to net 280 crores at the box office, hence turning out to be the first ever January release to bring in such massive numbers.
Surprisingly though, even before the lockdown was announced, no film post the Ajay Devgn starrer managed to enter even the 100 Crore Club. Baaghi 3 could have done that but it stopped precariously short at 95 crores after its 10 day run before theaters were shut down across the country. It was around the same time that the promo of Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi had released and though it looked like another potential blockbuster from the superstar who was collaborating with the number one director of Bollywood, Rohit Shetty, fate had other plans.
For now, it seems unlikely that theaters will open before July. Even when that happens, one doesn’t expect filmmakers to start releasing their biggies in theaters right away. It would be a wait-n-watch approach for sure. Though smaller films may still want to arrive pronto as they would get the kind of release which would be better than a regular Friday crowded by biggies, the true blockbusters will arrive much later.
This is where all eyes would be on Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi, Salman Khan’s Radhe and Ranveer Singh’s ’83, all of which were gearing up for release before the pandemic struck. Sooryavanshi was barely three weeks away from release, ’83 a month away and Radhe had its eyes on Eid arrival in May. Now each of the three biggies could well be aiming for the next big holidays. The big days ahead are arIndependence Day, Gandhi Jayanti, Diwali and Christmas, and three out of the four slots are set to be grabbed by Akshay, Salman and Ranveer.
To cross Tanhaji – The Unsung Warrior though, the target would be to emerge as a 300 Crore Club entertainer. That comes with its own challenges, and first and foremost it’s the need of solid content. There may have been a few fluke 100 Crore Club successes in the past but for a film to be a 200 crores or 300 crores blockbuster, the overall packaging needs to be truly impressive. Moreover, release date would be of all the more paramount importance than ever before for a film to traverse such huge distance.
That said, there are multiple other reasons that would come into play before a film can actually expect to enjoy a long ride. First of all, even theaters would be testing waters on whether audiences even think of coming to theaters, to begin with. It could well be a ‘pehle aap’ situation for the audiences as well as they would like to see whether post-lockdown, the pandemic is on control and whether they can indeed step into theaters.
This isn’t all, as even government would be keeping a close watch on whether any newer corona cases would have any direct correlation with people stepping out to crowded places (read, malls, theaters etc.). It may even happen that such decisions are taken on state by state basis, and not really the entire country.
All of this means that a lot would eventually boil down to that first big film which hits the screens, and that too on a right release date. It would be a Catch 22 situation there as well because on one end it would be assured of all 4500+ screens at its disposal due to lack of any competition, there would be a fear of unknown around true interest amongst audiences to step out of their homes.
So in nutshell, the next 300 Crore Club film in 2020 will need to
- have a superstar presence
- boast of solid content by the director
- release on a major holiday
- have practically all screens at its disposal
- arrive at a time when audiences are truly interested in watching a film in theaters
- won’t be challenged by another corona pandemic wave
- rely a lot on luck and
- very importantly, be willing to take a risk
Will Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Ranveer Singh and the makers of their Sooryavanshi (Rohit Shetty), Radhe (Prabhudheva) and ’83 (Kabir Khan and Sajid Nadiadwala) get all these factors right and close 2020 on a high? Well, trade, industry and of course audiences is keeping its fingers crossed for now. As stated earlier, the first to blink may well lead to an answer!