Box office report: Small-budget films give hope, Bollywood waits for the big ones to turn the tide
Soon after theatres reopened in mid-October last year, filmmakers have been testing waters to see if audiences are finally stepping out and going to watch films in cinemas. Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari initiated the chain of new releases in Bollywood in November 2020, followed by Indoo Ki Jawani and Shakeela in December and Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi marked the beginning of this year. Meanwhile, Hollywood biggies — Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 — too helped up the box office collections. Having covered almost the first quarter of the new beginning since cinemas reopened, industry insiders talk about present scenario and way forward.
BOX OFFICE RESPONSE
Trade expert Komal Nahta feels the only relief is that films are running and cinemas are functioning. “But box office collections are poor, except for Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 (WW’84),” he notes.
Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari also did a bit better business than other Hindi films, shares exhibitor-distributor Brijesh Tandon.
Sharing insights of business, trade expert Atul Mohan says, “The re-released films and new ones made about 5-10% business. Only Tenet, WW’84 made about 15-20%. After the difficult 2020, we shouldn’t think about making 200-300 crores, we must get things running with big films.”
Devang Sampat, CEO, Cinepolis India, explains why in this post Covid era, small budget films have done average business. “This time, promotion of these films were unimpressive. Bollywood should take cue from Hollywood biggies which went houseful in some theatres. We saw region specific success of Bengal and South films. People have started stepping out, they now need big films to visit theatres,” he says.
ALL EYES ON BIG FILMS
With big-budget films expected to release March onwards, and Shibasish Sarkar, CEO, Reliance Entertainment group, announcing either Sooryavanshi or ’83 will release during Holi, has given many hope.
“Many theatres are still shut, 50% occupancy cap is a concern. Turn-around time given the sanitisation procedure has reduced number of show timings. Now, only big films can change the game. Both Sooryavanshi and ’83 have potential. Also, both Master (Tamil) and Red (Telugu) are releasing on January 14 and already garnering interest. Then there’s big-budget Bhojpuri and Gujarati films coming out. Tickets of Master are sold out and pre-release responses around other films are good, too,” shares distributor-exhibitor Akshaye Rathi.
Raj Kumar Mehrotra, General Manager, Delite Cinemas, shares Madam Chief Minister starring Richa Chadha releasing this month might bring some business. “Then there’s Haathi Mere Saathi in March, Satyamev Jayate 2 in April, Radhe: The Most Wanted Bhai and Fast and Furious 9 in May. In February, some small-budget films might release. Till now, we had 15-20% occupancy, which went up to 30-35 % during Tenet,WW’84. Once big films come, it’ll go over 70%,” he says.
VACCINATION, 50% OCCUPANCY & TICKET PRICING
“Vaccination will definitely improve collective sentiments, provide courage. With all precautions, theatres are ready. Now, audience should extend support,” says Rathi.
Recently, centre asked Tamil Nadu government to revoke order allowing 100% occupancy in theatres. Tandon hopes vaccination will help take off this cap. “Cinemas involve huge cost, whether closed or running. But, there might be relaxation in the current occupancy cap once vaccination starts,” he shares.
Highlighting how reworking of ticket pricing is another determining factor to increase footfalls, Mohan adds, “Pandemic has hit the economy hard, leading to job losses. If ticket pricing is on the lesser side keeping the minimum profit in mind, that might draw more audience.”
A LOOK AT THE BOX OFFICE BUSINESS SO FAR (All approx figures)
Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari ₹2.5 crore
Indoo Ki Jawani ₹60 lakhs
Shakeela ₹30 lakhs
Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi ₹25 lakhs
Tenet ₹15 crores
Wonder Woman 1984 ₹12.5 crores
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Author tweets @Shreya_MJ