Bollywood biggies to play against Indian Premiere League

MUMBAI: While Indians will be spoilt for choice of entertainment in the coming days, both cricketers and filmmakers will have to keep their fingers crossed. Cricket and movies are both religion to our population of a billion and this time they are pitted against each other with the forthcoming Indian Premiere League (IPL).

Moreover, this is the first time that the star quotient is at its peak in cricket. While until now it has been restricted to actors’ appearances at matches to cheer the Indian team or new cola ad campaigns specially designed to break at the big ticket matches; this time round the IPL boasts of mighty associations with movie stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Preity Zinta and Akshay Kumar.

These stars are going the whole hog to promote their respective teams by rolling out official music videos, special appearances at events et al.

As these Bollywood guns hop onto the cricket bandwagon, there are films set to hit the box office simultaneously.

It’s no less than the clash of the titans between the 63 IPL matches and movies such as Tashan, Bhoothnath, and Jannat and another 14 films scheduled to release from 18 April to 1 June.

Majority of the film frat Businessofcinema.com spoke to believes that the IPL matches will definitely impact box office collections of movies. However, BR Films CEO Sanjay Bhutiani, whose Amitabh Bachchan starrer Bhoothnath is slated to release on 9 May, refutes all apprehensions. "IPL is a new initiative in India, so no one really knows about its audience loyalty. There is no denying that TV is bigger than movies, but TV has its own share of loyal women audience who are definitely not interested in the IPL matches that will be telecast," Bhutiani says.

Nonetheless as a precautionary step, Bhutiani says that no stone will be left unturned for the marketing and promotion of Bhoothnath. "As it is there is tremendous advertising clutter from various cola brands and holiday packages during the summer season. And this time around there is IPL too. Hence we are also upping the ante on advertising across every possible medium."

Percept Picture Company IPR and distribution head Ashok Ahuja says that since the theme of cricket is reflected in Vishesh Films’ Jannat, IPL perfectly compliments the movie’s release. Percept has acquired the global distribution and commercial rights of this film.

Says an industry professional, "Shah Rukh goes all out to promote his movies and ensure that the maximum number of people watch it. It needs to be seen if he will apply the same pull to draw audiences for Kolkata Knight Riders’ matches."

Coming to how this situation is likely to affect programming and collections across multiplexes, a point that comes forth is that IPL matches will have only 20 overs and hence the match duration will be short. This in turn should come as a relief point. The cricket matches are scheduled to be held from 2 pm to 8 pm.

Fame Cinema programming head Aditya Shroff is of the opinion that IPL matches will definitely impact box office collections. When queried whether screening the matches in multiplexes is a viable money making proposition, he says, "We may play the final match on 1 June but playing all the matches is not viable, primarily because people like to watch matches in their homes except for the finals and the license fee for running these matches in the multiplexes is too high."

During any cricket season movie producers and distributors avoid releasing big budget movies. Therefore, only average or below average films hit theatres, which too end up bombing at the box office. What’s more, the buck is more often than not passed on to cricket.

However, in retrospect, nothing stopped Biwi No 1 from spinning its success web at the box office during the 1999 Cricket World Cup.

For cricketers, actors and producers… it’s ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET, GO…

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