Magazine article Screen International

Indian Box Office Faces off with Cricket

Magazine article Screen International

Indian Box Office Faces off with Cricket

Article excerpt

The Mumbai-based film industry has lined up a diverse slate to tempt audiences during the IPL and Cricket World Cup.

Cricket has historically been the only activity that really competes with cinema-going in India, and big events like the Indian Premier League (IPL) can play havoc with release schedules.

This year the competition is even stiffer than usual as the ICC Cricket World Cup, which takes place every four years, is running Feb 19-April 2, and will be followed by the fourth season of the IPL (April 8-May 28). The IPL was hit by corruption scandals last year, but that is unlikely to dent its popularity in India. Matches are screened live on TV and on digital cinema screens across the country.

Before the IPL launched in 2008, Bollywood would roll out its big guns in April and May, the start of the summer holiday season for school-kids and students. But in recent years, distributors started to avoid releasing big titles during this period. This resulted in a bottleneck for Hindi tent-poles later in the year, but also gave breathing space to smaller films.

Now distributors are getting smarter about programming during this season and three big star-driven titles are scheduled for release before the end of May. These include two films starring Abhishek Bachchan - Eros International's Game on April 1 and Fox Star Studios' Dum Maaro Dum on April 22 - and UTV Motion Pictures' Thank You, starring Akshay Kumar, on April 8.

"This year the cricket runs from February to May and in our industry it's impossible to not release a film for three months - so we've decided to take on the cricket but be smart about it," says UTV Motion Pictures CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur. "We're releasing Thank You between the two tournaments and believe by then a certain amount of cricket fatigue will have set in. Audiences will be ready to watch a big entertainer."

Fox Star Studios, which is releasing Rohan Sippy's Dum Maaro Dum in India and international territories later in the month, has adopted a similar strategy. "We believe that with cricketing events spanning over three months, the audiences will be hungry to see exciting films that catch their attention during this period," says Fox Star Studios India CEO Vijay Singh. "In addition, Dum Maaro Dum is releasing over the long Easter weekend which gives us a fantastic release window."

At the same time, smaller films are being rolled out during this period to take advantage of the relatively less crowded release schedules.

Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, the rebooted film arm of the joint venture between Viacom and India's Network18 group, is releasing two mid-sized titles in April - Shaitan, a youth-oriented drama produced by Anurag Kashyap, and coming-of-age comedy Pyar Ka Panchnama (see release schedule below)

Balaji Telefilms has three releases under its ALT Entertainment banner during this period - Marathi-language drama Island Of Stars (Taryanche Bait), Mumbai-set drama Shor In The City and paranormal romantic thriller Ragini MMS. …

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