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Regional cinema grabbed major screen-share during the two pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 riding on more releases in theatres even as major Hindi films chose to wait it out. This regional trend is likely to strengthen in 2022, according to industry watchers as Hindi audiences are now hooked to other language movies. Bollywood, which used to account for well over 60 per cent of box-office collections, may well have to pay for its waiting strategy ceding share to not only regional but Hollywood movies, which, too, increased their collections in India during the pandemic.


South steals the show

“In 2022, regional cinema will be bigger than Bollywood as the Hindi audience has been exposed to more regional content — especially from the South — whise production did not stop. Between October 2020 and March 2021, when theatres were open, southern films were released, but no Hindi film,” says Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO of Ormax Media. He forecasts that the regional cinema could cross 50 per cent share of box office in 2022, while Hollywood films will increase their share to nearly 20 per cent.

Kapoor predicts that within regional cinema, southern productions will rule. “Not only on the box office but even on television, southern channels are getting stronger while the Hindi movie and general entertainment channels viewers have driftedto view news and other stuff,” he says.

In January 2021, Indian cinema saw its first blockbuster of the year in Tamil film Master, which reportedly grossed ₹230 crore worldwide, despite screening at 50 per cent capacity. It was followed by a steady flow of South Indian films that kept the cash register ringing — movies like Karthi’s Sulthan and Dhanush’s Karnan in Tamil; Uppena, Jathi Ratnalu and Vakeel Saab in Telugu) and Malayalam superstar Mamooty’s The Priest and One.

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Hollywood flicks

Bollywood did regain some ground with Sooryanvanshi and 83 in the latter half of 2021. However, the much hyped 83 was upstaged by Allu Arjun’s Telugu film Pushpa: The Rise and Spider-Man: No Way Home, with reports of some theatres replacing 83 with the latter two.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home is shattering box office records and the kind of response we are seeing for Pushpa: The Rise, we have not seen for any Telugu film recently,” said Rajender Singh Jyala, Chief Programming Officer of INOX Leisure Limited. Naveen Chandra, CEO of Mumbai Movie Studio, a new regional film studio venture, says, quoting BookMyShow data that Spider-Man , Pushpa and Master were the three top films booked on the platform in 2021 with Sooryavanshi lagging at the fourth spot.

While regional film-makers showed agility, the reason Hollywood films are doing so well is that they are dubbed in several regional languages with trailers in many more, says Chandra.

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RRR release put off

The New Year would again have seen Southern cinema roar with Baahubali director SS. Rajamouli’s RRR scheduled to hit theatres in January. But reports are filtering in that the film’s release is being deferred over the Omicron threat. But the South’s armoury is pretty strong.

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