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Coronavirus fear: Makers of Sooryavanshi, 83 to decide on release in a day or two

Uncertainty about the release of the two big-budget multi-starrer films has increased after two residents of Mumbai tested positive for the coronavirus infection.

Keyur Seta

Over the past week or so, the word ‘coronavirus’ has been trending not only on social media and in the mainstream media but also in the film world. With more and more cases being detected in India, the country’s cinema business is expected to take a hit.

Two big-budget multi-starrer films that are facing uncertainty right now are Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi, with Akshay Kumar in the lead, and Kabir Khan’s 83, starring Ranveer Singh, which are slated for release on 24 March and 10 April, respectively. So far there has not been any word about the releases being postponed. But the makers of these two films are on their toes as uncertainty looms.

A well-known distributor, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Cinestaan.com that some announcement on the two films is expected soon. “The makers of these films have been having meetings," the distributor revealed. "From what we hear, they will be coming up with a decision on Friday or Saturday.”

Some states like Kerala have currently shut down cinema halls for reasons of safety. But the distributor believes this alone isn’t enough to warrant delaying release of the two films. “So far, only small states like Kerala and [regions like] Jammu have shut down cinema halls. The overall impact from these at the box office is hardly 10%,” he said.

But things could rapidly go south if a larger state were to implement a similar measure. “If a big state like Maharashtra, where the business is enormous, shuts down cinema halls, then the makers will have no choice but to delay the release,” he said.

As far as the spread of the coronavirus is concerned, two persons from Mumbai have tested positive for the infection after eight others in Pune. Elsewhere, Hollywood star Tom Hanks, who was shooting for an Elvis Presley biopic, and his wife Rita Wilson have been reported to have contracted the virus.

In further bad news for movie fans, the keenly awaited cinema event CinemaCon has been cancelled this year because of the pandemic. The grand event takes place each year in Las Vegas in the United States with personalities from Hollywood coming together, sharing information about upcoming films and celebrating cinema.

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