With the Covid-19 (popularly called Coronavirus) pandemic sweeping across the globe, the world is experiencing a crisis on a scale and magnitude that has never been witnessed before. Even the best experts are unsure as to what course the viral outbreak will take, and when, if ever, the crisis will die down.
Fast 9 delayed
All of this uncertainty has naturally affected the entertainment industry, which is set to take a painful hit as public gatherings will be restricted across the globe in the coming months. Anticipating a drastic loss in theatrical revenues, postponements have been announced for Hollywood’s key releases, including critical summer tent-polers such as Disney’s Mulan, in the past few days.
Joining this club now is the highly-anticipated action flick Fast & Furious 9. The Vin Diesel headlined project is a lucrative money-spinner for studio NBCUniversal, which is likely to face significant financial losses as a result of the delay. The film was set to arrive in Pakistan over the Eid-ul-Fitr weekend and early word suggests that it will now hit theaters next year in April, a delay of about eleven months.
Coronavirus vs. Maula Jatt?
Adding to the woes of the local exhibition circuit, the National Coordination Committee today decided to shut down all educational institutions, marriage halls, and importantly, cinemas to prevent mass gatherings. The order will be in effect starting today for a period of three weeks, however given the course the pandemic has taken in other countries, the closure might last longer.
Immediately impacted are theatrical screenings of popular television show Ehd-e-Wafa’s finale, the advance booking for which was said to have picked up in the last few days. The other project impacted is the art-house release Intezar slated for a March 20 rollout. Ramadan arrives in late April, therefore it’s reasonable to expect the release vacuum to extend all the way till Eid-ul-Fitr in the last week of May.
That, however, only under the best-case scenario.
Galaxy Lollywood spoke to Ammara Hikmat, producer of The Legend of Maula Jatt, a film that seems to have the potential to turn around the film industry’s fortunes this year. Hikmat announced earlier in February that her film will release over the lucrative Eid-ul-Fitr holiday. Regarding the impact of the viral outbreak, she acknowledged the uncertainty prevailing. “It’s a wait-and-watch situation,” she said, responding to a query as to whether TLMJ is releasing as planned. “As of now, (the film is) on schedule for Eid release.”
The fate of another important Eid release, the Farhan Saeed-Feroze Khan starrer Tich Button too will be riding on how the crisis unfolds. If the Eid-ul-Fitr release schedule is thrown in a tizzy, it is anyone’s guess as to what date the projects will eventually be postponed to. Will another melee ensue with five or six prime projects duking it out for the prime Eid-ul-Azha slot?
Ironically, as the outlook for theaters the world over is getting bleaker, at least for the coming few months, prospects for clearance of Sarmad Khoosat’s long stuck-in-the-cans Zindagi Tamasha seem to be improving. The film will finally be screened for a special senate committee to decide its fate, bypassing a religious advisory body.
The next few weeks will be critical as the country watches what course the Coronavirus outbreak takes. Stay tuned to Galaxy Lollywood for all the latest updates on the release schedules, as and when they happen.