Bollywood takes breather during World Cup

Thursday February 17, 2011
By Sam Devraj  ( Assistant Editor )
Intermission: Production houses delay movie releases in view of the World Cup

Intermission: Production houses delay movie releases in view of the World Cup

BOLLYWOOD film releases have been put on hold over the next two months to avoid a clash with the cricket World Cup.

Cricket fans all over India, one of the hosts for the world cup, are expected to flock to the stadia or tune their television sets to sports channels, leaving general entertainment channels with fewer viewers and cinema chains with smaller audiences.

“For a multiplex, every show is a perishable item, so if they don’t use the multiplex screen for that three-hour period to the fullest, they lose. It’s like flying an empty plane,” said a Mumbai-based analyst.

The March quarter is a seasonally weak one for theatre chains such as Inox Leisure, PVR Ltd and Cinemax as most school and university examinations being held during that time.

This year the world cup is likely to make the quarter even weaker as production houses delay movie releases.

There are 23 films lined up for February and March as compared to about 30 during the same period last year, with just a handful of them featuring big stars such as Priyanka Chopra and Akshay Kumar.

“We have consciously planned all our big film releases post April due to the World Cup,” Kamal Jain, chief financial officer at Eros International Media Ltd, said. “It can affect viewership and we don’t want to take any chances.”

Sunil Punjabi, chief executive at Cinemax, said the multiplex chain expects occupancy levels to drop to about 23 per cent from the usual 26-27 per cent during the World Cup.

Hotel chains, already in the middle of a boom due to corporate demand, are eyeing higher bookings as fans from across the globe line up to watch the world cup, spread over several Indian cities including key metros.

Many customers have even been put on the waiting list as rooms in some regions are fully booked, hoteliers said.

International hotel chain Marriott expects occupancy across properties in India to be over 80 per cent compared with mid-70 per cent levels a year ago, as demand for rooms rise on higher corporate demand and the World Cup.

Airlines, which generally see a weak March quarter, as students and youngsters stay at home for the exam season, expect a moderate boost due to the sporting extravaganza.

The fourth quarter is “traditionally lower but this year we have the Cricket World Cup which will induce some buoyancy. So the final load factors are expected to be better than the typical Q4 load factor,” said Sudheer Raghavan, chief commercial officer at Jet Airways, India’s top private carrier.

Kaushik Khona, chief executive at unlisted GoAir said the airline expects a small increase in traffic with better load factors as compared with last year, adding overall loads would be “above eighties”.


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