Are You Game?

With the next few months all set to witness a clash between three pivotal cricket tournaments and various films, industry experts debate whether India’s most-loved game will affect business at the box office

Indians have two passions: films and cricket. So when the two collide, it presents a difficult choice for the audience. And each also drastically hampers the business of the other, since that choice can determine spending habits! In the coming months there will be not one, not two, but three cricket series lined up one after another, a bounty for lovers of the sport. There will be the Asia Cup (February 24 to March 6, 2016) the ICC World Cup T20 (March 8 to April 3, 2016) and the IPL 2016 (April 8 to May 29, 2016). Since cinema is the only other form of mass entertainment that rules on the Indian sub-continent, the film industry could take a beating when cricket frenzy is at its peak.

The question is – what kind of impact will the matches have on films releasing during that period? The films that might take a beating are Aligarh, Tere Bin Laden Dead Or Alive, Jai GangaaJal, Kapoor & Sons, Rocky Handsome, Ki & Ka, Fan, Baaghi, Mirzya, Sarbjit and Azhar.
According to industry experts, once the audience has had its fill of cricket, people might just plan a trip to the nearest screens to satiate their appetite for big screen entertainment. But at the end of the day, most industry professionals point out that if a film’s content is good, no cricket match can put the brakes on its progress at the box office. This year, taking a cue from previous years when the IPL matches were unable to make a dent in box office numbers, most filmmakers are going ahead with their releases.

We asked trade experts to opine on the impact of the Asia Cup, ICC World Cup T20 and IPL 2016 on the business of cinema over the next few months. Here’s what they had to say:

Amrita Pandey, Vice President, Studios, Disney India

The cricket season will begin with the Asia Cup and then the ICC World Cup T-20 will follow which will be held in the month of March and the IPL will go on till May. And in March the exam fever is on for schools and college students. Now between exams, cricket matches and also the kabaddi leagues one has to strategise their releases accordingly. If you see in the past Aashiqui 2, Iron Man, Heropanti, Avengers had released during IPL so I think there are enough films which have done well at the box office in spite of the IPL fever. This year March end will see a long weekend with Holi and Easter holidays on March 24. So that weekend will be very crucial for the releases as the audience will step out to watch films, match or no match, exam or no exam if there is a four day holiday people will step out. You have to plan it keeping everything in mind. Obviously for World Cup if we have a big match coinciding with a big film the numbers will drop and unfortunately big matches usually are scheduled over the weekends. We are releasing The Jungle Book during the initial days of the IPL. Then we are also releasing Baaghi during the end of IPL then on May 6 we have Captain America: Civil War which is right in between IPL. So we are releasing three films during that month because we believe during summer holidays families are going to come out and watch great content. In the past also I remember we had released ABCD 2 during Ramazan when everyone raised questions why are we releasing it during that time but it did well. Also we had released No One Killed Jessica in January when no one use to release films in January. So one does keep everything in mind while planning release date and a good film will run at the box office inspite of a busy cricket season.

Nandu Ahuja, Sr VP, India Theatrical, Eros International

India is undeniably a cricket loving nation but they enjoy movies equally. Earlier distributors and exhibitors would worry about an upcoming cricket tournament but now the film business has learnt to co-exist with this cricketing madness. Films and cricket now have now reached a common ground. A film with good content that can be enjoyed by the entire family won’t see much of an impact by the ICC T20 WC and IPL. We have earlier released movies like NH10, Badlapur, Housefull 2 during the cricket season which has been appreciated by the audiences. This year too we are releasing Marathi movies like Phuntroo and Jara Hatke and one of the most anticipated Hindi film Ki & Ka during these interims which have strong content backing them up. Our nation being cricket and film crazy we have enough audience who can enjoy both at the same time leaving less or no impact on the movie business.

Sheel Kumar, Producer, JA Entertainment

It doesn’t affect (the business of films) directly these days, as every day there is some cricket tournament or the other. But when you have Team India playing, film business does get affected. Having said that, if a film has great content, then no event can affect its performance at the box office. Also, if India plays well, people will be encouraged to watch the matches. If not, interest will wane. Cricket is no longer a threat to films. And that’s why every year during May-June we see films doing good business.


Ronnie Lahiri, Producer, Rising Sun Films

With each passing year, the craze for cricket is becoming less. Indians love cricket and there are matches played throughout the year, so that doesn’t mean films are impacted whenever a match is on. Like now we will have three back-to-back tournaments, but the charm is there only when India plays well.  Our films Vicky Donor and Piku released during the IPL and both did outstanding business at the box office. So I don’t believe that the IPL or the World Cup affects film business at all these days. Yes, some shows might get affected, but if the film is good, nothing can stop it doing well. In fact, football has become more of a rage among the youth than cricket!


Ratan Jain, Producer

Gone are the days when cricket matches affected films. Cricket is no more a threat. A film will work only when the content is good. Like last year Gabbar Is Back and Piku released during the IPL matches and still fared well. The days, it is only when Team India plays well that shows might get affected.


Kamal Gianchandani, Chief Executive Officer, PVR Cinemas

Cricket and films are two of India’s biggest passions and have co-existed for a long while. Starting with Jannat in 2008, films have released during the IPL and other cricket tournaments and have still met with success. Films like 2 States, Heropanti, Fast & Furious 7, Housefull 2, Vicky Donor and others have all worked at the box office during the busy cricket season, so we don’t find cricket to be a deterrent anymore.


Saurabh Saxena, Chief Operating Officer, Carnival Cinemas:

Theatre occupancy during tournaments does not get affected much these days because the format of cricket has been shifted from one day or test matches to just a three-hour long T20 match. India and Pakistan will face each other at least twice in a T20 between February and April and whenever there is an India Vs Pakistan match happening, cinema is bound to suffer but only for a couple of shows and collections might get affected on a few other days when India has other matches.

There are just four days between the World Cup ending and the IPL 2016 starting. Now that would usually mean an overdose of cricket — too much and too soon. So from IPL we are not expecting that much of an influence.

Films in the pipeline are also strong this year. There are big-ticket Bollywood films like Kapoor & Sons, Rocky Handsome, Ki & Ka, SRK starrer Fan, Azhar and Sarbjit, to name a few.  Whereas Hollywood films like Batman vs Superman – Dawn Of Justice, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Jungle Book, Captain America 3, X-Men: Apocalypse, Alice In Wonderland 2 and Angry Birds are strong contenders at the Indian box office and in fact, TRPs of matches might also get affected because of these films.

Akshaye Rathi, Director, Rathi Group of Cinemas

While films and the IPL have struck a good balance over the years and begun to co-exist without affecting each other too badly, the T-20 World Cup is a much more highly anticipated property, as it happens once every four years. More so, the tournament will be played out in India this year and its impact will be substantial. India is a cricket-loving nation and the T20 format has brought it out of the ‘sports’ domain and put it into the zone of ‘entertainment’, thus capturing the interest of a much larger audience and turning it into direct competition for the movies. The Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup will certainly make a dent in the movie business, but the IPL will not have a huge impact, as even hardcore cricket fans would have had an overdose of the game by the time it gets going.

Murli Chhatwani, Managing Director, Muviwala Entertainment

People in India are fanatic about Bollywood and cricket and consider them almost as religions. In the past too, cricket and Bollywood have survived successfully alongside each other and we are hopeful that people who have a passion for both will surely make time for each as per their interests. The much-awaited movies of 2016 that will be released during the upcoming cricket season are Ki & Ka, Fan, Jai GangaaJal, Baaghi and Mirzya, along with a few tentpole Hollywood films like London Has Fallen, Batman Vs Superman, Kung Fu Panda 3 and The Jungle Book.

In the initial years IPL tournaments would create a huge impact (on films) but they no longer pose any threat to Bollywood/Hollywood films, as movies like Housefull 2 (2012) and Vicky Donor generated good box office collections in spite of being released during such periods. In fact, some producers also use the cricket tournaments as promotional and marketing tools to build hype for their releases. Hence movies with good content and unique marketing and distributional strategies will do well at the box office despite being released during the cricket season.

Girish Wankhede, Founder, Entity One Entertainment Solutions

According to me, cricket impacting films has never been the case. The business of cinema is independent of these external forces. Even if these tournaments do affect films, it is marginally, especially during the final matches and that too for that specific duration when they are played. If the match is crucial and is played in the evening hours, only that slot will be marginally affected. There are several examples in recent years when films were blockbusters in spite of releasing during the IPL or World Cup matches. The traditional thought process of avoiding the Ramadan period, Shradh period and cricket matches is passé. Nothing can beat the run of blockbusters. Once a film clicks, it clicks in a big way. People will watch Jai GangaaJal and FAN, irrespective of any period or any distraction. Cinema has a far bigger popularity and reach. Star power is immense and the excitement built around these releases is quite palpable. It will not make any dent in the box office collections, irrespective of cricket being accepted as a religion in India.

Girish Johar, Head – Global Revenue, Essel Vision

Indians have two passions: films and cricket. And we love them both!  As for the upcoming mega slot of cricket matches, everyone is eagerly awaiting them. So yes, in terms of marketing and promotions of the films releasing during this period, filmmakers will have to come up with mammoth clutter-free promotions for their respective films so that their product stands out and brings the audience to the theatres. So there is going to be a lot of talk of cricket, especially in all the key encounters, and movies will find it tough to beat the buzz. But despite that, films are expected to do well at the BO. Some may be affected, but only for a few shows and that too will depend on the key matches and teams – but the brunt, I personally feel, will be limited. Cricket and films have co-existed together in the past and I strongly feel they can do so in the present as well. Exciting sporting events colliding with the big films is a phenomenon witnessed across the world and even in Hollywood they both co-exist. India is not an exception. Yes, badly marketed films and poor content films will find the going extremely tough, perhaps more than they would have had they released in some other period.


Amit Sharma, Managing Director, Miraj Entertainment

We have seen in past that T20 cricket has had little impact on the film business, especially on the evening shows. However, the impact of cricket on the business of films has reduced over the years. The impact will be more during the knockout stage rather than the league stages of the tournaments. At the same time, the film industry is also making bold moves and we have two or three big ticket releases during the same period with Kapoor & Sons, Rocky Handsome, Fan and more. Last year during the same period we had the biggest grossers like Piku, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Furious 7 and The Avengers: Age Of Ultron doing great business even during the IPL season.  The performance of Team India will also play a major role.


Gaurrav Gaur, Distributor, Rajasthan

The matches will definitely impact films because cricket is another major form of entertainment in the country. Thankfully, the matches will be telecast from morning to late afternoon, so the evening and late night shows will not be impacted. Since the family audience prefers to come to the movies during the evening shows, the film business will be able to sustain any drop. During the India matches the film business will take the biggest hit, but there is a balance between both and although matches will affect collections to an extent, it surely won’t be a big loss, as at the end of the day good content works, no matter what.


Debashish Dey, Distributor, West Bengal

The cricket matches will have a huge impact on films, especially in the West Bengal circuit, because cricket is a religion here. I know that the film coinciding with the India-Pakistan match will take a hit. Other than that, I don’t think the matches will compromise the business of films. The late noon and night shows are prime time shows for cinema lovers and the audience will definitely step out to watch films once cricket fatigue sets in.


Jeetu Khandelwalm Distributor, Orissa

I feel that the matches will definitely affect business, but a bigger impact will occur during the India matches. However, in the past, we have seen many examples where there have been films which were released during the World Cup and the IPL and yet went on to become hits. I feel that if the film is not good, it will not get a good opening, regardless of there being a match or not. But if a film has very strong content, despite the opening getting impacted because of the matches, the collections will eventually pick up with good word of mouth publicity. Even as far as the T20 matches go, they do affect films, but the cricket matches are not played/telecast all the time, so people generally find time to watch a film or two, especially if they’re hearing good reports of it. Rest assured, if the film is good, the audience will watch it.

Soumita Sengupta and Rohini Nag
Collection Chart
As on 20th January, 2018
Wo India Ka Shakespear110.00K10.00K

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