Next date please!

Debarati Palit Singh
Friday, 16 March 2018

Trade analysts say that the shuffling of release dates affects smaller films more than bigger ones.

The release date of films being rearranged isn’t a new trend in Bollywood. Once in a while, production houses and producers keep shuffling the release date in the  hope of doing better business or they do not want their film to clash with bigger projects. 

But the first quarter of 2018 has been a little extraordinary for Bollywood. Not one but the release dates of several films got shuffled. It all started with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, which was to originally release on December 1, 2017.

But owing to political disturbances across the country and delay in getting approval from the Central Board of Film Certification, the film’s release was postponed. After speculating on several release dates, Viacom 18 and SLB decided to release the film on January 25 this year. This altered the release dates of Akshay Kumar-starrer social film Pad Man and Neeraj Pandey directed Aiyaary. Both the films were supposed to release on the Republic Day weekend.

But Akshay postponed the release of Pad Man which finally hit theatres on February 9. SLB and Akshay in a press interaction announced the decision and the filmmaker couldn’t thank the actor-producer enough. The makers of Aiyaary also avoided clashing with the period film and moved the film’s release to February 16. 

And this started a series of reshuffling of film dates. Luv Ranjan’s directorial Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, which was supposed to release on February 9, hit the screens on February 23. John Abraham’s Parmanu, which was initially set for a theatrical release on February 23, was pushed to March 2. However, the makers did not want their film to clash with Anushka Sharma-starrer Pari, so they postponed the release date further to April 6. 

Rani Mukerji’s comeback film Hichki was set for February 23 release, but Yash Raj Films decided to push the release by a month owing to Board exams. The film now will release on March 23. 

Small-budgeted films suffer 
Along with big-budgeted and multi-starrer films, the release of a few independent and small budgeted films also got delayed. However, industry insiders say that the shuffling of release dates affect smaller films more than big-budgeted ones.  
Vishwas Paandya directorial Baa Baaa Black Sheep was to release on March 9 but to avoid a clash with bigger films, the makers will now release it on March 23. Vishwas says that the delaying of the film’s release was unavoidable. “It started with Padmaavat. Obviously, we had originally planned to release it earlier. Now we have no option but to release it along with Hichki. It affects our planning but we have to go with the flow,” he says. 

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh says that this trend is part of the business but there is no denying that change in release dates does affect smaller films. “But there is not much one can do,” he points out. 

Another trade analyst Atul Mohan says that big production houses have the resources and money to postpone their films. “But independent and  small films work on a tight budget. If they have their release dates postponed, it hurts them economically. Big producers can continue to promote their films for a longer period but these guys cannot do the same.”

He adds that because of the reshuffling of dates, many small producers stand to lose money. “Once they spend their resources informing the audience about a particular release date, they can’t use the same to promote it further. The audience therefore is not aware of the change in date.”

Boils down to content 
Many believe that the change in date affected the business of Pad Man and Aiyaary. But trade analysts believe that at the end of the day, it’s the content that matters and if the content is good, the audience will accept it. 

Mohan says, “Pad Man made around Rs 75 crores, that’s because the subject wasn’t universal. Even if the film would have released on January 25, the film still wouldn’t have made it to the Rs 100 crore club. As for Aiyaary, the content wasn’t up to the mark. People couldn’t relate to the film and therefore it did not work.” 

Adarsh adds, “Sonu Ke Titu Ke Sweety was also postponed but the film did more than Rs 100 crores because people could connect with the content. The shift in release date did not matter because of the film’s good content.” 

A part of the business     
Trade analyst Amod Mehra says that it’s all part of the business and the future of Bollywood. 

“That’s how things are going to be in the future because production houses announce release dates one or two years in advance without realising the film will be ready or not. All the peak Fridays (Eid, Diwali, Christmas and Republic Day) have already been booked by the A-list actors. There are about 52 or 53 Fridays and hundreds of films, so someone or the other has to compromise,” he says.   

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