January jinx aided by Omicron surge finds the box office in a sorry state – Times Now

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The Indian film industry has its fair share of superstitions and omens when it comes to mega releases. From Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, and all regional cinema, the makers and marketers want the best for their projects and choose everything, from name and numerology to the release date with utmost care. The releases are timed around festivals, mostly in the latter half of the year, with the crème de la crème being reserved for Diwali, Eid and Christmas.
But if one were to observe the trends over the past decades, the past two decades in particular, since the dawn of the millennium, the makers refrain from releasing their films in January. Commonly known as the ‘January jinx’ this has ruled Bollywood’s roost. In the South, the Pongal and Sankranti releases are much-awaited.
Reason it whatever — public fatigue after continuous celebration between Christmas and New Year, the big-budget and star-studded releases hogging the screens, or the schools reopening after the winter vacation, or simply the cold weather in northern states of the country — people are not too enthusiastic over new releases in the first few weeks of the year.
The jinx hasn’t been unbroken. Films like No One Killed Jessica and Uri have shattered the January jinx and struck gold at the box office in the past. However, the past two years have been like none another, thanks to the dreaded pandemic, and this January is staring at a similar dreariness.
The box office is limping as major releases — like Ram Charan-Jr NTR starrer RRR, Akshay Kumar’s Prithviraj, Shahid Kapoor and Mrunal Thakur’s Jersey — that were scheduled for a January release have been postponed because of the sudden surge in Covid cases across the country and restrictions amidst the Omicron scare.
And RRR was scheduled to be released ahead of the first weekend of January — on January 7, in fact. And things were moving on track and as per schedule for what is believed to be the biggest venture of the Indian cinema. Until the release date started inching closer, that is. A month ahead of the release India started seeing Omicron cases in two digits, two weeks before the release date, the national capital announced a ‘yellow alert’ and the surge in COVID-19 cases across the major cities have led to partial lockdowns and theatres being shut down to contain the spread. If this wasn’t the jinx, then we don’t know what to quite call it.
Even the makers of Prabhas’s Radhe Shyam sounded sceptically cryptic in the tweet about tough times and hope, amidst rumours that the film’s release has been postponed. However, when a fan asked if Radha Krishna Kumar, the director of Radhe Shyam, was referring to the postponement of the release date in the cryptic message, the director responded in Telugu saying, “If the release is being postponed, we will tell it directly.” The fans are hoping against hopes that at least this one is on schedule. There is also a sense of hush over the release of John Abraham’s Attack as there has been neither confirmation nor any changes announced regarding the release date yet, even though Abraham tested positive for COVID-19 early this week.
The uncertainty because of the pandemic has taken more than the pound of flesh. According to data, the gross box office collection (GBOC) has dropped from Rs 14,000 crore in 2019, to Rs 3700 crore in 2021. The box office estimates per language in 2021 is estimated to be around Rs 1200 crore for Telugu, Rs 800 crore for Tamil, Rs 700 crore for Hindi, Rs 250 crore for Malayalam, Rs 200 crore for Punjabi and Rs 150 crore for Bengali film industries. The numbers paint a bleak picture indeed.
According to Girish Johar, Producer and Film Business Expert, while that was the story of the year that went by, the delay in January releases isn’t helping matters much. Speaking to Times Now, he said, “We were hoping for a GBOC of Rs 1500 crore from the January 2022 releases alone. But that was before the Omicron struck.” He points out the worse state of affairs for the single screen cinema halls — over 20 per cent of which have reportedly been shut down over the past 24 months.
As the industry is limping and braving the pandemic-induced losses, the fact is that the January jinx has perhaps added to the woes of the twitchy film industry.


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