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Domestic B.O.: Dry spell ends!

By Bollywood Hungama

The low phase has finally ended. Post GURU, none of the biggies created magic at the ticket window. Most of them fell flat on their faces on the opening day itself. The business hit an all-time low. In fact, the management of a few theatres was compelled to cancel a few shows due to lack of moviegoers. The industry was in the I.C.U.

But Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s NAMASTEY LONDON has come as a breather, as a respite. After starting on a 50% note and taking a beating on Friday evening due to the crucial India versus Sri Lanka match, the film gathered speed from Saturday onwards. By Saturday afternoon, the results were crystal clear: NAMASTEY LONDON was a safe proposition.

Word of mouth plays a crucial role in making/breaking a film. If the film boasts of negative reports, the cracks start showing on the opening day itself. But if the aam junta takes to a film, the collections have only one way to go -- upwards. The audience feedback has been extremely positive for NAMASTEY LONDON and its moderate success, therefore, was a foregone conclusion.

We’ve discussed the merits and demerits of NAMASTEY LONDON in the review, so its time to talk shop right now. How strong is NAMASTEY LONDON from the business point of view?

One of the factors that works big time is its reasonable pricing. I’ve always maintained that it’s not the film, but the price that fails. It’s a viewpoint any and every smart trader believes in. The higher the price, the riskier it gets. But if you price a film sensibly -- the producer recovers his investment and the buyer is in safe territory too -- it’s a win-win situation for both. NAMASTEY LONDON is a shining example of this theory!

Another factor that worked in NAMASTEY LONDON’s favor is that the moviegoers were waiting with bated breath for a big film [in terms of cast, budget] to arrive. There was a barrage of medium-budget films in the intervening period, with none of them having holding power to sustain audience interest. Obviously then, NAMASTEY LONDON was expected to be greeted with enthusiasm, provided the word of mouth was positive.

Having gathered momentum from Saturday onwards, the film further consolidated its position on Sunday. Monday didn’t witness the alarming ‘Monday fall’; the figures were average [30%], but Tuesday was steady due to Ram Navmi holiday.

NAMASTEY LONDON is faring well in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. Mumbai is strong too, while C.I. [Madhya Pradesh] is nice at big centres and average at smaller centres. In a nutshell, it’s a safe venture for most of its distributors!



FOR NICHE AUDIENCE

It happened with BLACK FRIDAY. Then PARZANIA. Later WATER. And now THE NAMESAKE. Winning critical acclaim is different, par kewal taarifon se pet nahin bharta. The Indian box-office is a different ballgame altogether. The four and five star ratings by reviewers only boosts your ego, not box-office revenue.

THE NAMESAKE is a well-made film, but it’s not the kind that would appeal to one and all. Okay, it’s not for the hoi polloi, but even the elite wouldn’t take to the film completely. Actually, it caters to a tiny section of moviegoers and its outcome at the ticket window reflects that.

THE NAMESAKE has created ripples at the American box-office, but its fate in India is below par. It’s alright at very few multiplexes, but dull otherwise.



THIS WEEK IN 2006

[Weekend: March 24-26, 2006]

The last two releases in March, SOUTEN - THE OTHER WOMAN and BEING CYRUS [English], were no turning points. The release of SOUTEN - THE OTHER WOMAN was erratic at places; a few shows on Friday were cancelled due to late arrival of prints. Even otherwise, the hype was clearly missing, hence the film had to be content with a 15% to 20% opening.

SOUTEN - THE OTHER WOMAN also gave an impression that it was a sleazy fare, which it wasn’t. On the contrary, it tackled a bold issue [by Indian standards at least] of a man torn between two women; in this case it’s the mother and daughter fighting for the same man. Unfortunately, the concept failed to attract the multiplex crowd, while the skin show [in minimal doses] didn’t catch the fancy of the aam junta. Either way, it was a loser!

BEING CYRUS had a limited release [it was released at select theatres of few cities] and the response was best in Mumbai. The market of English films, made by Indians, hasn’t bloomed completely. Also, BEING CYRUS isn’t the usual English film. It caters to a different section of moviegoers: intelligentsia, thinking audience, elite. Obviously, there were bound to be limitations from the business point of view.



THIS WEEK IN 2005

[Weekend: March 25-27, 2005]

While the first three weeks of March weren’t fruitful, with SOCHA NA THA, CHAND SA ROSHAN CHEHRA [March 4], KARAM [March 11] and CLASSIC - DANCE OF LOVE [March 18] failing to lure cinegoers, the business showed an upward trend in the fourth week with the release of TANGO CHARLIE, ZEHER and MY BROTHER NIKHIL [March 25].

The graph showed an upward trend with the release of TANGO CHARLIE and ZEHER and while the opening weekend of these two films was better as compared to the business in the last three weeks, the collections came sliding down from Monday onwards.

The problem with TANGO CHARLIE was that it came at a time when the audiences had had enough of war films or films that depict a soldier’s fight to uproot terrorism. The second dilemma that TANGO CHARLIE faced was its offbeat title. A title like TANGO CHARLIE didn’t give an impression of being a film based on Border Security Forces. And titles such as these have their limitations in the predominantly Hindi belt.

On the other hand, ZEHER sailed to safety thanks to its above average opening and moderate pricing. The Bhatts sell their films at reasonable prices and ZEHER was no exception. But had this remake of OUT OF TIME released without a major opposition, its prospects would’ve been much better.

The third release, MY BROTHER NIKHIL, had a limited release. Targeted at the multiplex audiences of metros, the film had a dull start [expectedly]. Despite strong word of mouth and glowing reviews in the media, the film didn’t make a mark at the ticket window.



THIS WEEK IN 2004

[Weekend: March 19-21, 2004]

March 2004 will go down in the history as the worst month for the Hindi film industry. The darkest period ever… Bollywood witnessed a number of biggies biting the dust this year. One look at the opening day figures of some big-budget extravaganzas released from January to March indicated that a majority of films didn’t even fetch a face-saving opening.

Worse, a few films were discontinued before they could complete a one-week run, due to lack of audiences. Besides, the Indo-Pak cricket matches on Pakistani soil pushed the business of Hindi films to an all-time low.

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