Bollywood blockbusters save the date: All but one festive weekend booked for 2019

Taking the race for the best slots to a new height, Bollywood producers have pretty much sewn up their big-ticket release schedule two years in advance, leaving only Diwali free so far.

bollywood Updated: Oct 16, 2017 11:56 IST
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Hindustan Times
Brahmastra,Kesari,Hrithik Roshan
Actors Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt will be seen together in Brahmastra, which will be directed by Ayan Mukerji.

It’s natural that everyone would want the best release date for their movie, but booking it two years in advance… is that ludicrous or a good business decision? According to back-to-back announcements this week, all but one big Friday of 2019 appears to be snapped up by Bollywood producers. This follows our findings a few weeks ago that the most-wanted release dates of 2018 were all booked.

Now, Republic Day, Holi, and Independence Day weekends in 2019 have been taken by Yash Raj Film, Akshay Kumar, and Karan Johar, respectively. Christmas and Eid are likely to be taken by Salman Khan. As of now, only Diwali 2019 seems to be a free slot.

Earlier, producer Ramesh Taurani had said that announcing release dates in advance helped avoid a clash between production houses. Producer Anand L Rai had also said that such ‘advance booking’ of dates prevented “unnecessary complications or injustice to anyone”.

A film I'm extremely excited about personally and emotionally... #Kesari releasing Holi 2019!

A post shared by Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) on

On the need to announce films so many months in advance, especially for festive weekends, filmmaker Anurag Basu says, “Nowadays, movies have become like an event and a festival. Just like people plan a vacation, they also plan which movies they want to watch in a year. The days are gone when you’d decide in the evening that ‘let’s go watch a 9pm show’. Hence, even filmmakers are creating that space for the audience to plan.”

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh says, “It’s always good to lock the date [in advance]. With films clashing at the box office, producers feel it’s important to make an official announcement and lock the date.”

The film fraternity sees a good strategy in this move. Film critic Omar Qureshi says that booking long holiday weekends has been a tradition worldwide. “Festive weekends give a boost to movies, as families and children are keen to watch films then,” he adds.

  • On Oct 10, Akshay Kumar announced Holi 2019 as the release date for his film Kesari, based on the battle of Saragarhi.
  • On Oct 11, Karan Johar booked Independence Day 2019 as the release date for his film Brahmastra, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.
  • On Oct 12, Yash Raj Films took the Republic Day 2019 slot to release its action entertainer with Hrithik Roshan, Vaani Kapoor, and Tiger Shroff.
  • Speculation is rife that Salman Khan has already locked Christmas 2019 for his film Kick 2, and is quite likely to take Eid 2019 for Dabangg 3.
  • Aamir Khan’s biopic on astronaut Rakesh Sharma, is also likely to release on Christmas 2019
  • Only Diwali weekend is left for producers to pick.

Asked if it’s possible to sustain the hype for such a long time, Basu says, “Earlier, it was always the case that if a film was made well, it would do well. But now, if a film releases on a good date, it would do well.” He adds that producers and distributors base their opening weekend expectations on certain calculations, and it’s up to the director to deliver the goods.

Qureshi points out, “Hype is the bugle player walking in the front of a marriage party, but to make [a film] work, the compatibility of the product and the audiences is essential.”

For the films releasing next year, shooting has already started in some cases; those announced for 2019 are likely to go on the floors next year.

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First Published: Oct 16, 2017 11:56 IST