Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

Coronavirus shatters silver screen dreams for India's Bollywood

Coronavirus May 01, 2020 06:46AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of an empty movie theatre after Kerala state government ordered the closure of theatres across the state till March 16, amid coronavirus fears, in Kochi 2/2

By Shilpa Jamkhandikar and Rupam Jain

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's film industry, purveyor of song-and-dance spectacles to millions, will take at least two years to recover financially from the coronavirus pandemic, which is threatening big-ticket projects, putting at risk tens of thousands of jobs.

That was the sombre assessment of about a dozen top producers, distributors and actors from Bollywood, the movie industry in India's commercial capital of Mumbai, during a video conference this week, one of the participants said.

"Making movies has always been a gamble, and now some of us can pack up for the next year," said a film-maker responsible for many successful action movies, on condition of anonymity. "We will have to beg people to come to cinema halls."

Such dim prospects, even after the lockdown is lifted, threaten the box-office takings that make up 60% of industry earnings, spurring producers to say big-budget films and extravagant shoots in foreign locations will be shelved.

"Films will have a tough time," said Jehil Thakkar, a partner at accounting firm Deloitte India. "Even after they lift the lockdown, I'd expect the psyche of a lot of people would be to avoid crowded places."

Bollywood has come to a grinding halt, with film production and theatres shut nationwide, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a 40-day lockdown to curb the virus, which has infected 31,000 people and killed more than 1,000 in India.

About 9,500 theatres are shut, and business at multiplexes and single-screen cinemas is unlikely to bounce back for weeks or even months, as infection fears linger and discretionary spending plunges.

"Theatres may not open before mid-June on a pan-India level and normal occupancy may not come back until August," Karan Taurani, an analyst with investment firm Elara Capital, said in a note, adding they may have to slash prices to lure viewers.

Industry figures show India makes 1,200 films in a typical year, but Taurani sees big-budget movies getting pushed into the next fiscal year, as production houses battle a liquidity crunch amid falling box-office revenues.

For example, the release of Bollywood's first attempt at a multi-hero action franchise, film-maker Rohit Shetty's "Sooryanvanshi", has been postponed indefinitely from a late March schedule.

"It is likely that even after theatres re-open, only smaller films will be released, so that producers get a sense of how many people are coming to them," Shailesh Kapoor, head of agency Ormax, which tracks Bollywood films, told Reuters.

With such a re-opening unlikely until at least mid-May, and no new releases in the last month, trade analyst Girish Johar estimates lost box-office revenue at more than $130 million over the period.


Shares in India's two largest multiplex operators, PVR and INOX Leisure, have plunged more than 40% from all-time highs in late February.

Brokerage Emkay also slashed its rating on both to "hold" from "buy", saying they would suffer declines of more than 50% in visitor numbers, ticket sales, advertising revenue and food and beverage sales in fiscal 2020-21.

Theatreowners fear that in future they will have to record customers' names and addresses, check temperatures and ensure sanitisation, use of masks, and social distancing, all of which downgrade the audience experience while boosting costs.

Top-grossing actors and directors can tap savings to ride out the downturn, but it will hit tens of thousands of ordinary workers who get paid by the project, from movie extras to dancers, stagehands and technicians.

"Things are pretty bad right now for us, but worse for those who work on our films on a day-to-day basis," said Vinod Bhanushali, the head of marketing for production house T-Series, which has 12 films stalled by the crisis. 

Industry veterans warn the steepest slump in years may lie ahead for Bollywood, as virus infections in Mumbai, the home of the Hindi movie industry, make up about a fifth of India's tally.

"Everything will have to be calculated after the lockdown ends and when some form of normalcy returns," said Bhanushali.

For Sakshi Bhagat, whose dreams of becoming a film-maker lured her to Mumbai in 2013 from the northern temple town of Varanasi, the lockdown has been a rude shock.

"It's been so difficult to get payments from production houses for work I did," said the assistant director. "No one wants to pay."

(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open in an external browser.)

Coronavirus shatters silver screen dreams for India's Bollywood

Related Articles

China to discourage abortions to boost low birth rate
China to discourage abortions to boost low birth rate By Reuters - Aug 16, 2022

By Farah Master and Albee Zhang HONG KONG (Reuters) - China will discourage abortions and take steps to make fertility treatment more accessible as part of efforts to boost one of...

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email