Bollywood’s summer sizzle turns to fizzle: Industry worried with box office woes | Bollywood

Bollywood insiders are expressing concern as recent high-profile films have underperformed, causing a ripple effect on theatre revenues. Movies such as “Bade Miyan Chote Miyan” with Akshay Kumar and “Maidaan” featuring Ajay Devgn have not met expectations, leading to a reduction in screenings and a noticeable absence of blockbuster hits in the pipeline. (Related story: Cinemas face financial distress as failed blockbusters lead to cutbacks)

Movies like “Maidaan” starring Ajay Devgn and “Srikanth” with Rajkummar Rao have made decent returns at the box office.

Dismal ticket sales and a shortage of compelling movies are causing many multiplexes and standalone theatres to lessen their showtimes or operate below their total capacity.

Gain exclusive insights on India’s latest general elections exclusively on the HT App. Secure your download now!

Movie Theatres Face Challenge Attracting Crowds

Trade analyst Atul Mohan explains that “business is currently slow,” leading to show cancellations. This slowdown is forcing cinema operators to cut back on the number of screenings to manage expenses. They’re making do with fewer shows on fewer screens due to the limited movie selection available,” he stated.

Turning to box office performance so far this year, 11 Bollywood productions raked in about ₹700 crore domestically, marking roughly a 12 percent decline compared to the first quarter of 2023. Notable titles that did lure audiences include “Fighter,” “Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya,” “Article 370,” “Shaitaan,” “Madgaon Express,” and “Crew.”

Trade expert and filmmaker Girish Johar highlighted that the first four months’ returns are subpar compared to recent years. “In 2018, we saw around ₹1275 crore, in 2019 it was ₹1685 crore, in 2022, ₹1290 crore, in 2023, ₹1175 crore, and now, in 2024, we stand at ₹1085 crore,” he quantified.

This figure doesn’t include the downturn seen during the pandemic. Business plummeted to ₹790 crore in 2020 and a mere ₹55 crore in 2021.

Other releases like “Ruslaan,” “Main Ladega,” “The Sabarmati Report,” and “Srikanth” also hit cinemas, with “Kalki” scheduled for May but subsequently postponed. However, there’s been a void where typically popular Bollywood titles would be.

Girish voices his concern, “Films are struggling to make a mark. So far, the industry hasn’t seen robust gains.” Exhibitor Akshaye Rathi also looks at the content issue. “At this moment, niche films dominate the scene when what’s missing is a major blockbuster.”

Exploring the Downturn’s Root Causes

The summer usually heralds a series of hit releases for Bollywood, but this year is an exception due to several factors. “Producers are spacing out their releases, steering clear of the election period and planning for launches later in the year. Those hitting the screens now just aren’t pulling in crowds,” Girish explains.

Producer of “Crew,” Ramesh Taurani, believes the focus on political events and sports like the IPL is distracting potential viewers. He also mentions the quality of films, implying those that haven’t performed well were not up to par. “Crew” succeeded partly due to its music; an indication that filmmakers should also prioritize a movie’s soundtrack in addition to its narrative,” he advised.

A Quiet Spell Presages a Potential Revival

Industry pros are cautiously optimistic about the future. June is anticipated as a turning point for the industry, with big names like “Chandu Champion” and “Kalki 2898 AD” on the release calendar.

Trade guru Taran Adarsh remarks, “We’re in a temporary slump. The current drought of releases has us worried, but we’re hopeful that the latter part of May, especially with the premiere of ‘Mr & Mrs Mahi,’ will usher in a turnaround.”

Raj Kumar Mehrotra, General Manager at Delite Cinema in New Delhi, concurs, “We have scaled back on shows and screens for now. However, starting May 1st, we expect a major upswing with several significant films in line.”

Trade expert Joginder Tuteja remains steadfast that Bollywood will rebound. “The industry’s fate isn’t sealed by a couple of underperforming titles. We’re confident that once a compelling film is released, audiences will return to the theatres in droves.”

Leave a Comment