Though the film people are constantly placed on pedestals and are often looked upon as idols, just like everyone else, they too can be labeled as superstitious, especially when it comes to their films. In fact for an industry that is driven by box office figures and achieving new milestones with every release, Bollywood is also filled with those who look for good omens to release their films. For years now, releasing a movie in the first week of January or at times even in the month of January has been considered risky.
Coming to this year, we analyze the box office performance of movies in the month January 2015, comparing this year's collections to that of previous years. While the first week of January has always been looked upon as slow performing week, the subsequent weeks have always featured big ticket films with at least one film turning out to be a Rs. 100 crore grosser. However, January 2015 has seen a sharp decline in business, with more than nine films releasing and just a few managing to do decent business at the box office.
To further analyze this concept, we at Bollywood Hungama spoke to a few trade experts in the industry who have been known for tracking films and box office graphs and also to the film distributors:
Year end releases
A major factor that plays truant for new releases in January are the previous releases, like in December 2014, we witnessed the release of Aamir Khan's record breaking film PK that ran for three weeks. The film which went on to establish the record for highest grossing film ever, severely dented the business prospects of new releases. Commenting on the same Girish Wankhede, the National Marketing Head for PVR says, "Content plays a vital role for films that release in January. Apart from this new releases also get affected because of big ticket films that releases towards the end of December and continue to run well into the first few weeks of January. My case in point being Aamir Khan's PK that ran for three to four weeks."
Lack of big ticket films
This year, the month of January has seen the release of rather smaller films. Except for the Arjun Kapoor - Sonakshi Sinha starrer Tevar and the Akshay Kumar starrer Baby, other releases have not featured big star names. A Delhi based film distributor Anil Bhayani stresses on saying, "In January there were just two films that had A-list actors Tevar and Baby. However, while Tevar tanked at the box office for certain reasons, Baby despite being a good film with a big star name attached, catered to a niche audience. This affected overall collections in January 2015."
On a similar note, Girish Wankhede adds, "There were too few big releases in January, because of which overall collections have been lower as compared to previous years."
Preference for holidays
Another factor that contributes to the low collections in January is that filmmakers prefer to release their films when collections could be maximized, especially around vacations. Trade analyst Rajesh Thadani elaborates further, "January has never featured the really big ticket films. Producers and filmmakers prefer to release big films around summer vacations and other holiday seasons when collections can be at their peak. So basically January, that just has the Republic Day holiday, tends to feature fewer big films." Further talking about 2015 and the collections in January dropping to a four year low in specific, Thadani adds, "This year the content of the films that released in January was below par, save for a few that featured good content. However, while these few did well the others failed."
The start of the year heralds the onset of exam fever for certain students. In fact a chunk of the audience that include school kids and their parents refrain from venturing into cinema halls, in lieu of the impending board exams that tend to be scheduled during the subsequent months of February to April. Anil Bayani echoes a similar line of though saying, "Impending board exams keeps school children and others away from theatres, since obviously they prefer to concentrate on studying and preparing from the exams rather than watch films."
Territorial weather conditions
In India where the audience is not just subject to varying degrees of hardship in daily life, the winters that can get extreme, do certainly have adverse effects on audience turn out at theatres, resulting in a lower turn out at the box office. Though such conditions are highly regional, a major chunk of the masses get alienated, as distributor Anil Bayani, who looks into distribution in Delhi and other Northern territories elaborates. "The cold that comes along with the month of January is something that can and has affected the overall box office performance of films. In fact due to erratic weather conditions the audiences prefer to stay away from theatres, thus lowering the number of footfalls," Bayani states.
With each of the people we spoke to echoing similar reasons, the January Jinx holds true not because of certain superstitions but instead because of very tangible and known reasons. However, we don't think this jinx will be restricted to just January, in fact with very few big films releasing in the coming months (February and March), we predict a similarly slow earning in the first quarter, which is definitely not a desirable way to commence the New Year.