RRR postponed, advance booking refunded: Emotional and financial setback to film industry

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We speak to trade experts and producers who talk about the implications of the delay in the release of the magnum opus

Six days prior to the release of one of the biggest films of the year, the makers of SS Rajamouli’s RRR starring Ram Charan and Jr NTR decided to delay the film once again amid a surge in the coronavirus cases in the country and concerns over the new Omicron variant.

The official statement released on social media read, “Inspite of our relentless efforts, some situations are beyond our control. As many Indian states are closing theatres, we are left with no choice but to ask you to hold on to your excitement. We promise to bring back the Glory of Indian Cinema and at the right time, WE WILL.”

Advance booking for the film had opened in different parts of the world and if reports are to be believed, a staggering amount of approximately 10 crore has to be refunded now.

Talking about how this decision has put the film industry “on tenterhooks”, trade analyst Taran Adarsh says. He adds, “The postponement for the biggest film at the very start of the year has sent shock waves. It has made the film industry nervous. This isn’t an ordinary film. There’s big money involved. We’ve to wait for the time when cases come down and the cinema-going audience is ready, otherwise you can’t release a film like RRR with a heavy price tag.”

Trade analyst Atul Mohan, however, believes it’s a “good decision” taken by makers to delay the release of the magnum opus. He points out that though a lot of money is riding on the film, it won’t be difficult to recover the costs: “ 10 crore worth of advance booking is a testament to the fact that people are eagerly waiting for the release of the film. RRR is made on a budget of about 400-500 crore. A lot of money was also involved in the promotion of the film. Delay of any film will invite surplus cost for filmmakers. But it’s better to not waste a film and wait for a better time.”

Producer and film trade business expert Girish Johar feels it’s an “emotional and monetary setback” and that “double effort” will be required to release a “mammoth like film RRR” again. He elaborates, “Rajamouli sir personally requested other filmmakers to realign their release dates so that RRR gets a solo release. The makers were so deep into marketing the film and were at the last stages of promotions. Doing it all over again later when there’s a clean period in the future will impose a heavy cost.”

Producer Anand Pandit echoes the sentiments of Mohan as he thinks that the refund amount will be recovered but adds that he’s worried about her productions that are ready for release. “There’s also a possibility of films becoming stale. Carrying the interest cost for films like RRR and Jersey is going to be a huge burden on makers,” he ends.

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