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Despite big banners, Bollywood loosing its charm April 29, 2008

Posted by lollywoodhungama in Uncategorized.
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Despite the top studios making a beeline to enter Bollywood and the Indian Film industry’s growing prowess across markets, the first four months have been dismal at the box office. With 19 films released in 2008, from January to April, the box office has seen just two hits — Race and Jodha Akbar. Besides, there was a drop in the number of releases during the 4 months. In 2006 the number of releases for the same period was 28, 27 in 2007 while 2008 has seen only 19 releases so far.

The saving grace has been Race and Jodhaa Akbar, with collections of Rs 62 crore and Rs 61 crore respectively. The list of big banners which flopped was Ajay Devgan’s Halla Bol which clocked in Rs 15.9 crore, followed by Black & White, which marked Subhash Ghai’s come back, which managed just Rs 5.8 crore. The much publicised Pakistani film Khuda Ke Liye, despite a wide release across multiplexes could rake in only Rs 1.2 crore.

Pritish Nandy, CEO, Pritish Nandy Communications, puts it best when he says, “Number of films released going down was something that was bound to happen. The in-built inflation omnipresent in the film industry has been a major factor. With actors prices having zoomed up, the economics of movie making has been destroyed. Moreover, date availability being an issue, number of releases will see a decline.”

Mr Nandy added that Hollywood went through the same phase earlier with actors dictating the industry, pushing studios to step in and ensure that the script was the selling point and not the actor. He added that this year the number of films in toto will also see a decline from the average 250 films a year to about 200-220.

Domestic Theatre Collections of 2008 Movies
Jodha Akbar: Rs 62.26 cr
Race: Rs 60.84 cr
Sunday: Rs 22.55 cr
Halla Bol: Rs 15.85 cr
Black & White: Rs 5.75 cr
Mithiya: Rs 5.64 cr
Superstar: Rs 2.39 cr
Source: Boxofficeindia.com
While the Hindi film industry might have produced many actors, it is still the top stars who rule the roost at the box office. Says Namrata Shanbhogue, media and entertainment expert with Enam Fin Consultants, “The stars of Shahrukh, Akshay, Aamir, Salman are still major drivers of box office revenues. And non availability of dates from these stars could automatically mean delayed releases.”

With actor availability now becoming scarce, producers are looking at strategic ways of controlling talent costs. For instance, long-term deals with actors and directors is in vogue. UTV, for instance, has reportedly tied up with Hrithik Roshan to do a certain number of movies for a fixed sum. UTV also has a tie-up with directors like Madhur Bhandarkar and Ashutosh Gowariker. Similarly, Studio 18 has tied up with Katrina Kaif for two movies. However, trade analysts state that this trend is short lived, and with the demand-supply mismatch, actors are shying away from long term contracts, and are cashing in on the bull run.

Is it a cause of concern for the industry? Former Adlabs chairman and industry veteran Manmohan Shetty said, “While, most films are recovering their costs, we have not had a super block buster film in the last four months. Just recovering costs is not enough, and films need to make money for this to be a healthy industry.”

The Yashraj banner film Tashan which the industry was betting on also seems to be following the same path. With the usual tussle between multiplex operators and Yashraj Films over the revenue share ratio, multiplex operators have decided to take a stand of not screening the film. This would mean yet another potential money spinner at the box office will backfire, due to the lack of a wide spread release over the opening weekend. Tashan will now have to depend on its own script to ensure sustained revenues across the first two weeks.

Said a trade analyst, “If multiplexes would have released the film, Tashan would have raked in a lot of money only on the back of it being a Yashraj banner. Its limited screening will now hurt both multiplex operators as well as the studio, as the weekend revenue exploitation will be diluted. Monday onwards, the film will be largely influenced by reviews as well as recommendations, which may not favour the film.”

Domestic box office collections continues to be the largest contributor to the revenues of the industry at 74%, according to the latest FICCI-PWC report 2008. However, this share has been shrinking in the last four years.

With movie releases not being evenly spread, multiplex operators will be the worst hit. Average occupancy of multiplexes is estimated to be in the range of 35-45% and this may further fall, with the novelty value of outdoor cinema beginning to wane . Ticket prices are also significantly higher in multiplexes, and hence the audience is more discerning in watching a film.

With the number of multiplexes expected to triple to 5,000 screens by end 2012, and multiplex screens expected to account for around 40% of total cinema screens, a decline in releases is not a healthy trend for multiplexes.

While the first four months of 2008 haven’t seen as many releases, there are lots in the pipeline. Yash Raj Films, for instance, which did three movies in 2004, would be releasing five in 2008. While Tashan is the first to hit the theatres, others to follow are : an untitled Kunal Kohli film, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Roadside Romeo and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi starring Shahrukh Khan (which is slated for release on December 12). UTV Motion Pictures which did two movies in 2004 is releasing 10-12 movies in 2008. Amir, Mumbai Meri Jaan, Wednesday, Fashion, Delhi 6, Mr and Mrs Khanna are among the major releases. Production houses like Studio 18, Percept pictures are similarly scaling up. However, there seems to be a issue with the industry on projects undertaken and delivery.

The other reason is production delays, causing long dry spells at the box office. Says Karan Ahluwalia, senior vice-president, media and entertainmt, Yes Bank, “With the age of corporatisation, production delays are increasingly happening, leading to movie releases not being evenly spread.”

Mahesh Ramanathan, head of the Big Movies, said, “I think ’08 is just an abberation. In the movie business there are good quarters and lean quarters. The fact that the releases have dropped this year is not an indication of any trend. The number of releases has remained largely constant over the years and so has the success ratio.”

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