If the first six months are anything to go by, 2018 is going to be a great year for the Hindi film box office
In the first six months of the year, we’ve already had six Hindi ₹100-crore films; one for almost every month of the year. While April didn’t have a release for the three-figure club, June had two with Sanju (₹290.58 crore net and counting) and Race 3 (₹166.11 crore net). The Sanjay Dutt biopic and Padmaavat (₹282.28 crore net), which released in January, alone made more than ₹572 crore net. And the total box office collections from January to June have so far amounted to ₹1,787 crore net, approximately ₹300 crore more than 2017’s earnings in the same period. Box office analysts are certain that 2018 will reverse the curse of diminishing returns that we’ve been suffering with over the past few years. “This year’s [figures] are up about 25% to 30% despite Baahubali 2: The Conclusion’s (₹510.36 crore net) release last year,” says Shailesh Kapoor of Ormax Media, a firm specialising in trade insights. “We’ve never seen such consistency [where] there’s a hit every month. The second half will have to be horribly bad to reverse this progress.”
Trade winds of change
Usually, the first quarter of any year is conventionally reserved for low to medium budget films, but thanks to Padmaavat’s postponed release, January started off with a bang. “The good part is that the [last six months prove] that audiences are coming to theatres, be it for English, Hindi or even Punjabi cinema,” says trade analyst Girish Johar referring to Punjabi film Carry On Jatta 2 that made ₹31.25 crore net, an unprecedented feat for a regional language film. “Even Hollywood has performed well with Avengers:Infinity War of course and films like Black Panther and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” A film like Hichki, which released in March during a period of examinations, managed to make a respectable ₹46.18 crore net. “It broke the trend of a traditionally dull period,” says Johar. With such happy numbers, a surprising trend has emerged. One that we’ve not witnessed yet and that which proves variety is the spice of life. “If you look at the top seven or eight films that have worked, no two are similar,” says Kapoor. “People are reacting to stories and characters, and different genres are interesting.”
These box office good tidings have extended to the South as well, where according to trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai, Bollywood has penetrated Tamil Nadu, a feat that’s equivalent to “crossing the final frontier”. “Sanju, a film that was not dubbed into Tamil, [in its original language] has done about ₹2.5 crore net in the state,” says Pillai. “I think the biggest hit of the year has been Sanju, Padmaavat is number two. The third biggest hit this year is Raazi and female-centric films are doing better.”
In the coming months, Bollywood’s got some big-ticket releases like Akshay Kumar’s Gold; Thugs of Hindostan with Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan; and Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero. Then there are the usual action suspects with Paltan (Jackie Shroff, Suniel Shetty, Arjun Rampal); and Rohit Shetty’s Simmba. And finally, the widely anticipated, blockbuster-budgeted Rajinikanth’s 2.0 which also features Kumar as an antagonist. It looks like a packed second half and these films will have to really tank badly for the box office gods to frown down.
The Dhadak story
Made on reported budget of ₹50 crore and released to more than 2,000 screens all over the country, Dhadak has managed to make ₹47 crore net in the five days since its release. The Hindi film is remake of the Marathi Sairat that not just crossed ₹100 crore net but also performed well in metros and single screen areas. On the other hand, Dhadak has been restricted to high-end multiplexes so far with very little business from single screen areas.
While Dhadak will certainly not climb the same heights as Sairat, it has a multi-crore satellite and digital rights deal that will definitely push it past the break even mark.
The article has been updated to reflect that the budget of ‘Dhadak’ is ₹50 crore, excluding the production and promotion cost as per norms.