The Covid-19 surge has proved to be costly for the Kannada film industry, aka Sandalwood, as the movies that made a good start at the box-office are not being able to capitalise on their success.
The reason? The Karnataka government has limited occupancy in cinema theatres to 50 per cent because of the third wave.
Producers who had planned grand Sankranthi releases have deferred their movies. And the film trade estimates that by the time the third wave peters down, scores of theatres across the state will permanently close down.
'Badava Rascal', starring actor Dhananjaya, released on December 24 and showed all signs of becoming a hit. The movie team had already begun a tour across the state to celebrate its success, but it received a rude shock when the 50 per cent limitation was announced in the first week of January.
Dhananjaya stated that though the makers were happy with the box-office pickings, the restrictions had affected the prospect of the movie doing even better.
The Nikhil Kumaraswamy-starrer big-budget movie 'Rider', also released on December 24, had begun well at the box-office, but then had to incur heavy losses. 'Arjun Gowda', the movie starring Prajwal Devraj, was also hit badly by the state government's decision.
The big Kannada movies will now be slated for release during the Varamahalakshmi, Ganesha and Vijayadashami festivals. In fact, when the second Covid wave hit hard, major releases, including pan-India projects such as the Kichcha Sudeep-starrer 'Vikranth Rona', had to be postponed.
No Kannada film has been released after December 31. With experts predicting that the third wave will peak in February, the producers are unsure about releasing their movies. Industry sources said there won't be any big releases for another two months, which is going to spell doom for theatre owners.
By the time the third wave subsides, industry sources said, more than 200 theatres will shut down permanently. With no new movie being released, they are managing with movies which have released last month, even with 50 per cent occupancy.