The year started on a positive note with young guns bringing in the moolah, but overall, 2014 has so far turned out to be a disappointing one for the Bollywood box office, say trade gurus, pointing out at how only seven of the nearly 180 releases surpassed the Rs. 100 crore ($16 million) mark in the Hindi film industry, which has grossed an estimated turnover of Rs. 2,350 crore so far. Hope lies in Aamir Khan's much-awaited PK.
Whether it was Tiger Shroff's Heropanti, Sidharth Malhotra's Ek Villain, Varun Dhawan's Main Tera Hero, Alia Bhatt's Highway or Alia and Arjun Kapoor-starrer 2 States - they set the stage for a decent year in the first six to eight months, by not just recovering their money, but also making profits.
But the 'second half was a major disappointment and most of the films didn't live up to expectations,' Rajesh Thadani of Multimedia Combines said in an interview.
"This year was very bad...so far," he added.
Terming 2014 an 'average year', trade analyst Komal Nahta said: "The start of 2014 was good, but towards the end there was a downfall. November was the worst month for the film industry in the last 15 to 20 years. All the films, including Happy Ending, The Shaukeens and Kill Dil bombed."
Thadani estimated that instead of adding to the list of movies making their way into the Rs. 100 crore club, November's releases contributed to a loss of Rs. 100 crore at the box office in the month.
"Nobody was expecting this kind of downfall as there were lots of expectations with few films. Even Action Jackson has not been up to the mark," he said.
Box office-wise, the sunshine in the gloomy year was brought by seven films - Jai Ho (approximately Rs. 110 crore), Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty (Rs. 110 crore), 2 States (Rs. 105 crore), Kick (over Rs. 200 crore), Bang Bang (Rs. 145 crore), Happy New Year (Rs. 188 crore) and Singham Returns (Rs. 140 crore).
Two other films which inched close to minting Rs. 100 crore were Ek Villain (Rs. 96 crore) and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (Rs. 86 crore).
This is better than the five Rs. 100 crore spinners of last year, "but still we can't consider this as great business," said Thadani.
His comment seems justified in the fact that these were high budget films too.
Trade expert Vinod Mirani said: "Raking in Rs. 100 crore is not a benchmark anymore in this industry. Besides, the films that have crossed Rs. 100 crore were made on a huge budget, so they have not made any profit. They have merely recovered their money. In short, it was certainly a bad year for the industry."
Hindi filmdom forms a major chunk of the globally popular Indian film industry, estimated at a little over Rs. 1,250 crore in 2013, according to the FICCI-KPMG Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2014.
Content-wise, some women-centric movies like Mardaani, Queen, Mary Kom, Highway, Dedh Ishqiya and Revolver Rani came to the fore, as did films like Citylights, Hawaa Hawaai, Jal, Lakshmi and Haider, which found critical acclaim.
"Few women-centric films have done well and that's certainly a great change," Manoj Desai of Gaiety Galaxy said.
Adding to this Thadani said: "Despite being a purely women-centric film, Highway garnered Rs. 30 crore, Mary Kom managed Rs. 54 crore, Ragini MMS 2 made Rs. 50 crore, Queen minted Rs. 55 crore and Mardaani made Rs. 40 crore, which is not bad."
The year was okay for small and medium budget entertainers as Shahid Kapoors-starrer Haider collected Rs. 50 crore at the box office, while Amole Gupte's directorial Hawaa Hawaai and Hansal Mehta's Citylights made Rs. 10 crore.
As Desai pointed out, the damage has been done for this year. And now all eyes are stationed on PK, which brings together the hit 3 Idiots trio of Aamir, director Rajkumar Hirani and producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra. One wonders if it will salvage the state of the Bollywood box office when it releases Dec 19.
"I don't think one film is going to change the fate of the entire year, but still we are hopeful about PK," said Desai, while Nahta said: "There's a lot of buzz created about this film, and we are hopeful it will do well."
In a nutshell:
Overall, a disappointing year for Bollywood box-office.
Films featuring young talent like Tiger Shroff, Sidharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Arjun Kapoor surprised with their profit and performances, giving the year a decent headstart.
Salman Khan's Kick turned out to be the biggest grosser so far. It made over Rs. 200 crore.
Only seven of the approximately 180 films were Rs. 100 crore grossers.
November turned out to be a dampener with most big ticket releases bombing at the box- office.
Movies like Mardaani, Queen, Mary Kom, Highway, Dedh Ishqiya and Revolver Rani were noteworthy, and gave a fillip to the trend of women-centric movies.
Differentiated content and performance-oriented movies like Citylights, Hawaa Hawaai, Jal, Lakshmi and Haider were a welcome addition to the year's big screen Hindi entertainers.
There are high expectations from Aamir Khan-starrer PK, which is due to release Dec 19.