March is usually a dry month for Bollywood thanks to the Class 10 and 12 board exams and so the industry has little to offer in terms of big budget outings. Adding fuel to fire will be Indian Premier League (IPL) matches on the big screen.
"We have no options this month. Whatever comes our way, we'll show. March is a lean month as always due to exams. We are hoping some content works and brings in footfalls through word of mouth, though we'll also be showing IPL at one of our screens at normal cinema rates," Amit Awasthi, manager (programming and operations) of Spice Cinemas, told IANS. The IPL tournament begins Friday.
Tusshar Dhingra, COO of Big Cinemas, said: "There's really not much to do (this month), but we are trying to do whatever we can to get that additional footfall. There are three to four big Hollywood releases coming up and some small Bollywood movies. We are also screening IPL in cinemas at standard ticket rates and with additional packages."
The month opened on a commercially disappointing note with the release of Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge?, Road, Movie, Hello Zindagi, Thanks Maa and Rokkk.
Expectations were high from the Ajay Devgn-Konkona Sen Sharma-starrer Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge?, based on Sharad Joshi's short story, but it didn't work despite the fact that there wasn't any competition at the ticket window.
Dev Benegal's internationally acclaimed Abhay Deol-starrer Road, Movie also failed to bring footfalls to the theatres.
Movies lined up for release this month include Hide N Seek that stars not-so-big names like Purab Kohli, Arjan Bajwa, Ayaaz Khan, Samir Kochhar, Mrinalini Sharma and debutant Amruta Patki and Na Ghar Ke Na Ghaat Ke features Ravi Kishan, TV actress Narayani Shastri and Rahul Aggarwal. Swaha is also coming this month.
Right Yaa Wrong is the only movie that boasts of big names - the film has Sunny Deol and Irrfan Khan in the leads. Yogesh Raizada, corporate head (cinemas) of Wave Cinemas, said: "Movies will keep on coming, they are not stopping, but the occupancy and expectations won't be there as it is an annual dull period. We are trying to fill it up by screening IPL and that too at prices equivalent to cinema tickets.
"The best part is exams will get over by maximum March 25 and IPL will build up hype by that time, which sounds good." Multiplexes are trying to cash in on IPL fever. The tournament is starting March 12 and will end April 25 and multiplexes have warmed up to the initiative of screening the matches.
"IPL has become a strong property. On top of that, no big budget film is releasing during this period. So, screening matches will be beneficial for the halls because no major film shows will be affected and they (theatres) will have something to fall back on for sustenance," UFO Moviez India CEO Rajesh Mishra had told IANS in an interview.
Around 800 screens around India, including close to 65 in Delhi and surrounding areas, are expected to screen the matches at movie ticket prices that range from Rs.120-180 across different properties depending on the timing of the match.
"It has always been that during the time of exams, the movie lineup has been dull and so to make up for that we are going to screen IPL this time across most of our screens," said a source from PVR cinemas.
Other movies lined up this month are Ekta Kapoor's Love Sex Aur Dhokha, Vikram Bhatt's Shaapit, Sushant Singh-Hrishita Bhatt-starrer Idiot Box and
Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan's Lahore. March will also see the release of Shyam Benegal's talked about film Well Done Abba along with Hum Tum Aur Ghost and Crime Partner. All the movies are releasing March 26.
April will begin with the release of Shahid Kapoor-starrer Paathshala, Vivek Oberoi's Prince and Phoonk 2. Other fillers during the month Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai, Tum Milo Toh Sahi, Apartment, Mirch, Run Bhola Run and It's A Wonderful After Life.