The inception of Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008 sent the Hindi film producers running for cover. After all, they were going to face competition from a glitzy cricketing property that also promised entertainment during the much coveted period of summer holidays, the two months that are generally considered as money spinners for film producers. Not willing to take any risks, the producers shied away from releasing their films during summer after that. The first year of IPL only saw the release of three star driven films- Tashan, Bhootnath and Jannat – while the second year of IPL saw no significant release, though the matches in that particular year were held far away in South Africa.
"During the initial years of IPL, there were barely any film releases clashing with its matches. As a result, three years ago, we telecasted IPL matches in our multiplexes as an option for cinegoers. But that was only for a year and now, things have changed significantly. In the last couple of years, producers are willing to release their films around the time of IPL, which is a good thing for the exhibitors," says Ashish Saxena, COO, Big Cinemas.
In the last two years, the threat of IPL on film business has definitely dwindled. "Earlier the occupancy during the IPL season would only be about 20 per cent, but in the last two years, the percentage has gone up significantly," adds Saxena. While 2011 saw multi-starrers like Dum Maaro Dum, Pyaar Ka Punchnama, Shor In The City doing decent business at the box office during the IPL season, last year, Sajid Khan's big budget bonanza Housefull 2, which released just a day after the IPL inaugural, went on to become one of the top grosser of 2012 crossing the `100 crore mark. Taking the bull by its horn, the makers decided to cash in on the cricketing property by promoting their film on the IPL platform. The audience also gave a big thumbs up to films like Vicky Donor, Jannat 2 and Ishaqzaade that released bang in the middle of IPL.
According to trade analyst Vinod Mirani, unlike during the time of World Cup, the overall business of a film is not affected by IPL. "If India is in the race, then World Cup affects a film's box-office collections, but not everybody is interested in IPL. If a city is playing on a particular day, it might affect the box- office collections in that particular region. But the local audience will watch the film on the next day, so overall collections of a film are not affected. Last year saw quite a few hits during the IPL," adds Mirani.
Moreover, in a 52-week calendar it is extremely difficult for producers to find solo releases, especially during the second half which is usually dotted with releases starring the Khan troika, Hrithik Roshan, Ajay Devgn, Ranbir Kapoor etc. As a result, producers would rather take on an IPL instead of clashing with a star-studded venture if it means getting a solo release. So is there a possibility of a peaceful co-existence between IPL and Bollywood during the summer months? Vinay Sapru, co-director of Sunny Deol and Kangna Ranaut starrer I Love NY releasing on April 26, definitely thinks so. "IPL is not exactly serious cricket; it's just another form of entertainment. It is not a threat to film producers at all. In fact, it didn't even cross our minds when we decided the release date of I Love NY, which was booked a long time in advance," says Sapru.
Bollywood batting order
Chashme Baddoor, Rise Of The Zombie: April 5
Nautanki Saala, Commando: April 12
Ek Thi Daayan: April 18
I Love NY: April 26
Shootout At Wadala: May 1
Gippi: May 10
Aurangzeb: May 17