Continuing concerns over the spread of swine flu in India have prompted the Maharashtra state government to close all cinemas in Mumbai until Sunday.
The decision will affect the release of UTV’s highly-anticipated Kaminey and the Indian Film Company’s Life Partner.
Both films had booked 100 screens each in the city and the loss is projected to be up to $1m (Rs50m). The Mumbai territory alone accounts for about 20% of box office revenue. Cinemas in the city of Pune, which had also closed for three days, will reopen on Friday.
However the nationwide release of these films will proceed as planned due to piracy fears as the films open in Dubai and the UK today.
“We are going ahead with the release of Kaminey worldwide in over 1,200 screens,” said Siddharth Roy Kapur, CEO, UTV Motion Pictures.
“Of these, we will have a delayed release in approximately 120 screens due to the Maharashtra government notification to close cinemas in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai for three days starting Thursday, August 13. The films will release in these regions as soon as the movie halls reopen.”
He added that UTV is fully insured for any loss of profit that may be incurred due to the delay in release, or due to lower footfalls caused by the audience’s general concern about public places.
The impact of the swine flu scare has been felt across the film industry – the premiere of Marathi film Chhava has been moved to Sunday and shoots and promotional events in Pune have been cancelled. This is the last big movie weekend before the start of the fasting month of Ramadan, traditionally a slow time at the box office.
This latest event adds to an already faltering year at the box office for Indian films which were affected by the Mumbai terror attacks last November followed by the producers’ strike, recession and now swine flu which has so far claimed 15 lives across India.