Not only the makers of 'Sooryavanshi', each one of us has been waiting with bated breath for the reopening of cinema halls. The Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif starrer, with cameos by Ajay Devgn and Ranveer Singh, was scheduled to hit theatres on March 24, 2020, but the catastrophic coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdowns made things impossible for them to release the film. However, the makers had the option of releasing it on streaming platforms, but they did not yield as a Rohit Shetty film deserves to be watched only on giant screens. Hence, they waited for 18 months, and finally, the release is only a few days away.
The cinema halls, which were shut for the last one and half years, had already reopened in a few states but the filmmakers were waiting for Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's decision before announcing their release dates. As soon as the decision was made to reopen the cinema halls in the state from October 22, a mad rush was seen to announce the release dates. From Ranveer Singh’s 'Jayeshbhai Jordaar' to Ranbir Kapoor’s 'Shamshera', Yash Raj Films, which is one of the biggest production houses in the industry, announced a total of five films. Akshay Kumar, who is one of the busiest stars in Bollywood, announced six movies.
But why were the filmmakers waiting for Uddhav Thackeray's decision? The answer is quite simple. The Mumbai circuit, which comprises areas that formed the erstwhile Bombay State and Portuguese-ruled colonies, alone makes thrice as much money as the others do.
Let's take a look at territory-wise breakup of the box office collections of Bollywood's biggest hits (Source: Bollywood Hungama):
1. Tanhaji – The Unsung Warrior
Mumbai - Rs 136.94 cr.
Delhi-U.P - Rs 33.73 cr.
East Punjab - Rs 13.68 cr.
2. Tiger Zinda Hai
Mumbai - Rs 109.08 cr.
Delhi-U.P - 70.14 cr.
East Punjab - Rs 32.47 cr.
Mumbai - 105.20 cr.
Delhi-U.P - 66.20 cr.
East Punjab - 32.95 cr.
Mumbai - 104.22 cr.
Delhi-U.P - 80.25 cr.
East Punjab - 44.38 cr.
Mumbai - 102.39 cr.
Delhi-U.P - 70.56 cr.
East Punjab - 35.28 cr.
Coming back to 'Sooryavanshi', it is undoubtedly the biggest Hindi movie to release this year. With Rohit Shetty expanding his cop universe, it is being hailed as the director's answer to 'The Avengers'. The adrenaline-pumping action and whistle-worthy dialogues will surely be loved by the masses. So, despite having all the ingredients of a blockbuster, why can't Akshay Kumar's film rake in the same amount of mollah as the movies listed above?
The pandemic is to be blamed for this as the Maharashtra government has directed cinema halls to strictly adhere to COVID-19 protocols. As per the protocols, the occupancy cannot be more than 50 per cent of the total capacity. Also, the cinemagoers have to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Moreover, if you read the terms and conditions to book tickets at top cinema chains like PVR and Cinépolis, they have clearly stated that the people must have taken both doses of the vaccine. "Cinema staff may check your vaccination status on Aarogya Setu app or Vaccine certificate before allowing entry inside the premises," it reads.
As we all know, the vaccines have so far only been administered to those above 18 years of age. Thus, Rohit Shetty's under-18 audience cannot watch the movie in the cinema halls. Also, only over 3 crore people have taken both the doses in Maharashtra, whereas over 6 crore people have taken the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
And to add to the woes of the makers of 'Sooryavanshi', the pace of vaccination has slowed down in the state. "The pace of vaccination has slowed down. More awareness is necessary to expedite the vaccination drive. A third wave is still unpredictable. All depends on new variants and mutations," CM Thackeray said on Monday. He also added that the COVID-19 protocols must be followed though almost all restrictions related to coronavirus have been lifted.
Not only Maharashtra, other states such as Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Assam have also limited the seating to 50% occupancy.
Taking all this into consideration, it will be difficult for 'Sooryavanshi' to surpass the previous blockbusters, but then again, it is a Rohit Shetty movie...kuch bhi ho sakta hai.
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