Sankranti to see major releases in 2022, theatre owners hope for big turnout

There are three movies releasing this Sankranti, including RRR, Bheemla Nayak and Radhe Shyam.
Collage of stills from RRR, Bheemla Nayak and Radhe Shyam
Collage of stills from RRR, Bheemla Nayak and Radhe Shyam
Written by:

In the Telugu states, it’s become a yearly ritual to watch a box-office clash take place during Sankranti, the first festival of the year. However, earlier this year, theatres were bare due to the coronavirus pandemic that kept them shut for months. In 2022, big budget movies that were delayed due to COVID-19 are hoping for major returns, and have locked their release dates for the festival season in the state’s roughly 1,800 theatres.

For the upcoming Sankranti season, three big movies — RRR, Bheemla Nayak and Radhe Shyam — are going head to head at the box-office in the Telugu states. Theatre owners are banking on these releases to bring audiences back to the movies in a big way as they hope to recover some of the major losses experienced since March 2020. The nationwide lockdown shuttered theatres across the country. Many later opened in January of 2021 with 50% occupancy, but had to close again as the second wave hit the country. The theatres were recently reopened with 100% occupancy in August 2021.

The blockbuster movie month will begin on January 7 with the release of the much-anticipated RRR, SS Rajamouli’s multi starrer and multilingual project. The film, under the banner of DVV entertainments, features Jr NTR, Ram Charan, Alia Bhat, Olivia Morris, Ajay Devgn and others playing significant roles in the movie. The movie is being said to be a fictional tale set in the backdrop of the pre-independence era. The period drama is expected to cater the family audiences, while tapping into the universal fan base of Rajamouli and Chiranjeevi’s family and fans of the Nandamuri family.

RRR will have five days at the box-office to grab audiences before the next movie, Bheemla Nayak, hits theatres on January 12. The movie is directed by Sagar K Chandra, while ace director Trivikram has penned the dialogue and screenplay. The multistarrer movie features Pawan Kalyan, Rana Daggubati, Nitya Menen and Samyukta Menon playing the lead roles. Bheemla Nayak is a remake of Malayalam blockbuster Ayyappanum Koshiyum, which starred Biju Menon and Pruthvi Raj Sukumaran.

Two days later, the Prabhas and Pooja Hegde-starrer Radhe Shyam will release worldwide on January 14. The period drama, with a touch of sci-fi, is being produced by UV creations and recently kicked off its promotions with the debut of its first lyrical song in all five languages that the movie is releasing in. The film is highly anticipated for Prabhas fans, as it comes about four years after Sahoo, the actor’s last film. 

Earlier, Mahesh Babu’s Sarkaru Vaari Paata was also in the Sankranti race. However, as shooting is yet to be wrapped up, the team has postponed the release date.

While many speculate which film will ultimately dominate the box-office, theatre owners and distributors are looking forward to bringing audiences back to the movies. Speaking to The News Minute, Telangana State Film Chamber of Commerce (TFCC) Vice-President, Bala Govind Raju, says that the country cannot forget the devastation that came from COVID-19, but hopes that the movies will be able to provide a respite. 

“Given the unnatural circumstances that we are facing today, as people are still suffering due to personal and financial loss from COVID-19, the movie can help them heal to an extent at least,” says Bala Govind, who is also the owner of a single-screen theatre, Sudharshan theatre, at the RTC Crossroads.

“Cinema has the power to take people to such euphoria,” he adds. 

He notes that while there have been some decent movie releases in the last few months, they did not push for audiences to come in droves to the theatre. But the presence of major movies may spur a sense of normalcy in the state and country. 

In December, a few anticipated films are releasing, including Bala Krishna’s Akhanda, directed by Boyapati Srinu, Pushpa under Sukumar’s direction, and Shyam Singha Roy, helmed by Rahul Sankrityan.

Regarding the allotment of theatres, Bala Govind says that theatres will be filled based on a supply and demand pattern, though there will be an initial allotment. “When the first big movie releases, all theatres will see audiences for that, so there is definitely a higher margin for it. But movies releasing later will divide the theatres,” he says.

Meanwhile, producers are also concerned that profits will be heavily divided during this period but none are willing to back out of the release dates now,  according to the industry insiders.

As a result of closure of theatres over 2020 and early 2021, many producers turned to OTT platforms to release their films, a point of contention for theatre owners who lost out on ticket sales from those movies. Prasanna Kumar, from the Telugu Producers Council, says that OTT, however, cannot completely take over. “Though there are OTT platforms, they do not cater to all sections of the audience. It's limited. But the theatrical release is different as it already has a system that caters to all kinds of audiences,” says Prasanna Kumar, in terms of pricing and affordability.

Multiplexes are also looking forward to seeing an influx of moviegoers. Vijjay Bhaskar from Kurnool Inox says that they have been waiting for a string of big releases for a long time. “Movies with a renowned cast and crew is what pushes the audience to the theatres, and this time, movies from big heroes, directors and production houses are coming in. And we are hopeful that the old days are going to come back.”

Currently, Telugu states are allowing 100% occupancy in theatres. Though there is no seat distance mandated, theatres are expected to follow COVID-19 protocols, sanitise the area and should see that audiences wear masks.

Here are the release dates for anticipated movies in December and January:

Akhanda - December 2, 2021

Skylab - December 4

Good Luck Sakhi - December 10

Pushpa - December 17

Shyam Singha Roy - December 24

Ghani - December 24

RRR - January 7

Bheemla Nayak - January 12

Radhe Shyam - January 14

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute