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All shows lead to IPL
- Movie theatres bear the brunt as T20 on TV grips city

The latest blockbuster in town is giving Bollywood a run for its money. Or, making the money run away from Bollywood.

It’s the Lalit Modi-produced IPL Twenty20, the daily three-hour thriller with action (all the big hits), drama (Bhajji slap to Eden blackout), music-and-dance (the gyrating cheerleaders) and emotions (teary Sreesanth). Add to that a new star cast every evening and a guaranteed new climax. That too live and free.

No wonder exhibitors are fuming. “The IPL matches have indeed affected our business, at least by 15 to 20 per cent,” Shravan Shroff of Shringar Cinemas, which runs the Fame plexes in town, tells Metro.

The rest of the plexes may not accept it but, according to sources, the drop figure may have gone up to 50 per cent over the last couple of weeks especially on the nights Kolkata Knight Riders have taken the field.

Ironically, KKR owner Shah Rukh Khan, the only Bollywood bloke gaining from the T20 matches, had wanted to give his one lakh guests at Eden “the multiplex experience” every match night. He had said: “I just want them to relax and enjoy the match for those three hours. It should be just like their going to the multiplex to watch a movie.”

Not just multiplexes; even the single screens are losing heavily. “Our business has gone down,” says Pranab Roy, the owner of Menoka cinema. The TAM ratings say it all. The opening IPL match on April 18 between Bangalore and Calcutta scored 8.21 and has maintained an average of a 6-plus rating since.

The big Bollywood release on April 25, Tashan, obviously hasn't been able to bail out the exhibitors. While it has been a no-show at the plexes, the film has not been able to sustain the great opening at the standalone theatres.

With no real big film till Sarkar Raj (June 6) and IPL matches on till June 1, exhibitors are now trying other methods to counter the cricket-meets-entertainment frenzy. One of them is the arrival of the much-awaited comic-book film Iron Man a day before it hits halls in Hollywood.

The Marvel Comics adaptation, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the superhero, will play at the city plexes from Thursday while it releases in the US on Friday.

"It is a great opportunity for us at a time when the Bollywood releases haven't been that strong," says Vikas Syal, the general manager of INOX (Forum).

"Hopefully, Bhootnath next week can improve the content further."

Yes, the multiplexes may have a ghost of a chance there.

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