The year 2017 cemented a truism that filmmakers know but sometimes ignore – that content and content alone wins at the box office
It’s that time of the year when you look back at the hits you experienced and the misses you survived. For the Hindi film industry, 2017 was something of a revelation, which showed that the audience is taking a hard look at content and accepting or rejecting movies based purely on that criteria – and nothing else.
January was filled with remakes and clashes. From the controversial release of Haraamkhor; Deepika Padukone’s Hollywood debut in xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage; Ok Jaanu bombing at the box office; to finally Raees and Kaabil emerging victorious after they butted heads at the ticket counter during the Republic Day weekend, it was an eventful month for cine-goers.
The next month ushered in another superstar’s success as Akshay Kumar’s Jolly LLB 2 opened with big numbers. But the other starry release of February 2017, Shahid Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut and Saif Ali Khan-starrer Rangoon was a huge disappointment.
With some festive colour, the month of March brought in the `100-crore success of Badrinath Ki Dulhania. Several other, smaller movies like Commando 2 and Naam Shabana put in an average performance at the box office.
The first half of April included some downers like Noor, Begum Jaan, Maatr and the Hollywood film The Fate Of The Furious. But the final days of the month saw the phenomena of Baahubali: The Conclusion hypnotise the audience so completely that the film became the biggest hit of the century, with over `500 crore in collections.
With the Baahubali fever raging, film-goers flocked to cinemas in May, when content-driven movies like Hindi Medium and Half Girlfriend worked wonders. Some other releases that month were Sarkar 3, Meri Pyaari Bindu and Priyanka Chopra’s Baywatch, which failed to make an impression.
Along with Death In The Gunj, the animated film Hanumaan: Da’ Damdaar, Dear Maya, Behen Hogi Teri and Bank Chor, there were also two huge disappointments in June. Salman Khan’s Tubelight and Sushant Singh Rajput-Kriti Sanon’s Raabta were a total letdown. The only saving grace was the superhero film Wonder Woman, which was a huge hit.
Beginning the month of July on a strong note was Sridevi’s MOM and Spiderman: Homecoming. These were followed by films like Guest Iin London, Jagga Jasoos, Munna Michael, Shab, Raagdesh and Indu Sarkar, which didn’t do well. But in the midst of these releases, we also had Lipstick Under My Burkha which wowed the classes even as Mubarakan won over the masses.
August 2017 was a mixed bag, with a big film like Jab Harry Met Sejal bombing and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha becoming a superhit. Positive word-of-mouth helped Bareilly Ki Barfi and Annabelle: The Creation make a mark while others like A Gentleman, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, Qaidi Band and Partition: 1947 failed to do so.
The following month saw a number releases, like Baadshaho, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Poster Boys, Daddy, Simran, Lucknow Central, Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi, Bhoomi and Haseena Parkar, among others. But the only ones that caught the audience’s attention were the powerful Newton and the masala entertainer Judwaa 2.
With Diwali in October came two much-awaited films. Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar and Rohti Shetty’s Golmaal Again!!! both did well at the box office, with the latter crossing the `200-crore mark. Other films that released that month were Chef, Tu Hai Mera Sunday, Jia Aur Jia and Rukh.
In November, Ittefaq, Qarib Qarib Singelle and Tumhari Sulu did decent business. The two big Hollywood releases, Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League also brought in good collections. But other films like The House Next Door, Ribbon, Aksar 2, Julie 2, etc. pulled down the overall numbers.
December 2017 was supposed to be the highlight of the year, with films like Padmavati and Tiger Zinda Hai releasing. But the postponement of the Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor-starrer has robbed the month of some of its festive cheer while last week’s release Fukrey Returns kind of made up for the disaster created by Tera Interzaar and Firangi. All hopes are now pinned on the Christmas weekend, when Salman Khan’s Tiger Zinda Hai hits cinemas.
This week, we spoke to producers from the Bollywood fraternity and asked them to sum up the year 2017; which films, in their opinion, made the cut to become super hits; and to spell out their expectations from the industry in 2018.
Mukesh Bhatt, Producer
The year 2017 has been an interesting year, where a lot of content-driven films have worked, and a lot of star-studded films didn’t work. Another interesting factor was that all masala films with good content worked this year. So the audience has made it very clear that they will only watch good movies, movies which give them entertainment.
Yes, if we look at the box office, not many films did good business but that’s par for the course. With every successive year, we have to be more careful about our content and have our finger on the pulse of our audience.
Rakesh Roshan, Producer-Director
2017 was a learning experience as every year but with a lot of innovations and social media we have to be very careful to guard our projects from all unforeseen obstacles to sail smoothly. Think twice before you leap as films are most vulnerable to any situations. According to me films are good or bad. Hits and flops are destiny.
Boney Kapoor, Producer
Well, 2017 had a good mix of content and entertainment and films like Hindi Medium did well. Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Bareilly Ki Barfi, MOM and all these films did well. At the same time, you had Judwaa 2 and Golmaal Again!!!, which did extremely well. So it was a good mix of content-oriented films. The other thing is that female protagonists were able to draw people to the box office and these success stories are gradually being accepted.
I am sure these strengths will continue into 2018 and perhaps we will have a better ratio of successes as there are some very interesting films lined up, like PadMan and Tiger Zinda Hai. There will be a lot of surprises in 2018.
Bhushan Kumar, Chairman & MD, T-Series
It’s been a year of ups and downs for the industry. It was a year when small-budget or content-driven films worked at the box office as well as with the critics. For us, films like Hindi Medium and Tumhari Sulu worked wonders and, similarly, it was a year when films like Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Newton, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, etc. notched up good numbers at the box office due to word-of-mouth. There were also films like Golmaal Again!!! and Judwaa 2 that received audience’s applause.
But this was a year that saw a different side of our audience preferences, and the films lined up for release in 2018 reflect this change in audience choices. We ourselves have a mixed bag of films like BLACKMAIL, Sonu Ke Titoo Ki Sweety, Kedarnath, Batti Gul Meter Chalu, Fanne Khan, the Saina Nehwal biopic, Raid, an untitled film with Deepika Padukone and Irrfan, Ajay Devgn’s untitled film, and many more. Many of our peers are also coming up with content-driven as well as big-budget films, which will help the industry experience a better year than 2017.
Jayantilal Gada, Producer
The year 2017 has been very interesting as all genres of films have worked. From Judwaa 2 and Golmaal Again!!! to Newton, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and many more, they did good business. The audience is open to accepting all kinds of cinema. The film needs to entertain the audience and connect with the emotions and sentiments of the Indian audience. Hence, you can’t say that only a certain kind of cinema is working.
Another interesting factor is that Diwali is a very special period for the film business but it’s been a while since films have put in a good performance during this festival. But, this year, both films Golmaal Again!!! and Secret Superstar secured a good amount of footfalls in theatres. Last week’s Fukrey Returns is also doing well. Now, all eyes are on Salman Khan’s Tiger Zinda Hai. So, all in all, 2017 has been a decent year.
In 2017, there were films which did not work and there were films which were hits. Now Fukrey Returns is creating a mass entertainment. Films like Tumhari Sulu, Raees and MOM, and a few other commercial movies, became part of the success stories because of their unique stories. Overall, we would say that it was a mixed bag of genres that were success stories. For instance, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha had a message and it was entertaining too. Jolly LLB 2 was another film that was entertaining and carried an impeccable message too. Finally, movies with great content worked and those that failed did so because their content wasn’t up to the mark. Before a film releases, the buzz depends purely on its promotions but the true test of a movie’s quality is the response after it releases.
In 2018, we have many big movies lined up. Let’s judge them only after they release and see how the public reacts to a particular movie.
Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions
2017 has been a remarkable year for Dharma Productions. We pushed the envelope and took creative risks which paid off. We offered a mixed bag ranging from the epic magnum opus in Baahubali: The Conclusion to a simple, ingeniously marketed and engrossing psychological thriller in Ittefaq. On the one hand we had a serious drama-thriller in The Ghazi Attack, while a wholesome family entertainer like Badrinath Ki Dulhania on the other. We are elated by the box office success and the acceptance we’ve received from the audience.
On the industry side the biggest standouts this year have been franchise films and content driven films. Franchise films such as Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Fukrey Returns, Golmaal Again!!!, Baahubali 2, Judwaa 2 and Jolly LLB 2 have done phenomenally well, and have dominated at the box office.
On the other hand, content driven films irrespective of size have had a fabulous run at the ticket counters. In fact, most of the content driven films have been small–medium budget films such as The Ghazi Attack, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Newton, Ittefaq, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Hindi Medium, etc.
One can say that the lines between niche and mainstream audiences are blurring, and this success instills the confidence to try out novel, offbeat content.
Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios
Fox Star Studios continued its successful streak of 2016 in 2017, with three blockbusters, making us the only studio in the industry with a record of three back-to-back 100-crore films in the year. While Jolly LLB 2, directed by Subhash Kapur, was developed along with our internal creative team, Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Judwaa 2 are part of the strategic alliances with our creative partners, Dharma Productions and Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, respectively. Along with these Bollywood winners, even the big Hollywood release and one of the most awaited films of 2017, Hugh Jackman-starrer Logan and Murder On The Orient Express, have had a phenomenal run at the box office.
Nandu Ahuja, Senior VP, India, Theatrical, Eros International
This year, audiences have given a big thumbs-up to movies with content, and that’s why films with good stories and great entertainment value have worked big time. We, at Eros, are very happy at the appreciation and love that Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan and Newton have received from critics and viewers alike, which proves that movie-goers are looking for fresh story plots with good content.
It’s an exciting 2018 for Eros and we have an interesting mix of cinema to offer the audience. We start the year with sports drama Mukkabaaz directed by Anurag Kashyap; followed by a sequel, Happy Bhag Jayegi Returns, starring Sonakshi Sinha, Abhay Deol and Diana Penty; Vikramaditya Motwane’s untitled vigilante drama. We also have Trinity Pictures’ next film, Haathi Mere Saathi, going on floors in January, which stars Rana Daggubati. It is directed by award-winning director Prabhu Solomon and is slated for a Diwali release.
Kalapi Nagada, Founder, Cinekorn
Apart from Baahubali: The Conclusion, 2017 has seen only a few blockbusters like Golmaal Again!!! and Judwaa 2, collecting `204 crore and `132 crore, respectively in the domestic market. These numbers hint that the box office is in great need of another blockbuster this year and now all eyes are on Tiger Zinda Hai. A bigger cause of worry is that this year, even popular stars couldn’t bring audiences to cinemas including Salman Khan in Tubelight, Shah Rukh Khan in Jab Harry Met Sejal , Ajay Devgn in Baadshaho and Ranbir Kapoor in Jagga Jasoos.
December is traditionally a strong month for revenues in Bollywood, but the industry received a blow this year with the release of Padmavati being postponed for another two months. This means that a historically lucrative month will have only one mega film, Tiger Zinda Hai, to bank on and this could spell bad news for the industry. Padmavati was expected to earn around `300 crore but even that number could have come down given how intense the opposition is to the film.
The year 2018 has a good line-up of releases, with Akshay Kumar’s PadMan, Mogul, 2.0, Gold and Crack, Salman Khan’s Race 3, Ranbir Kapoor’s Sanjay Dutt biopic, Shah Rukh Khan’s untitled film with director Aanand L Rai, Hrithik Roshan’s Krrish 4 and Ranveer Singh’s Gully Boy. Here’s hoping they bring in the expected numbers at the box office!
Ratan Jain, Producer
The year has seen some big hits like Baahubali: The Conclusion, Judwaa 2 and Golmaal Again!!! but not many movies did well. Big films have flopped at the box office while small-budget movies like Hindi Medium, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, etc. made money. The year hasn’t been a total disaster but if you look at the ratio, it has not been a very good year. Good films always work and bad ones, despite featuring big actors, will only get an opening due to the big names but will not do well later.
There is no long run at the box office any more but a film has to hold strong till Monday at least. All expectations are on Tiger Zinda Hai now. As for the coming year, there is great anticipation attached to Padmavati, which has been postponed. Let’s just hope for the best.
Vikram Bhatt, Producer-Director
There have been really no ups and downs, there has been only good and bad content. Though I feel that this year is the watershed year for films because the audience has made it clear that they will not go for stars, or marketing, or gimmicks, or the item song or the controversy…they will only go for content. We all have understood the message loud and clear and now that we know this, 2018 will be a year of the writers and the directors, all in all people who make the content.
Nikhil Dwivedi, Actor-Producer
2017 has been a remarkable year at the movies. I would say that it will be a year that when we look back will define the way we watch movies. A lot has been spoken and written about how big budget films of A list actors that haven’t done well, but the issue was not with the talent, it was with the script. 2017 has proved that content will always be the king. The audience can’t be fooled into liking content they don’t appreciate. My favourite films this year were Bareilly Ki Barfi and Golmaal Again!!!. I think looking forward, 2018 will be year where filmmakers experiment with mediums and push the envelope in telling stories and narratives that need courage and guts.
Sheel Kumar, Producer
The year 2017 hasn’t been great for the film industry as not many films did well. Despite the number of films that release every year, barely three to four of them do massive business, and two to three do average business. This year, the ratio of return on investment was low because many star-studded films that were expected to reel in big numbers, failed. With Padmavati not releasing now, the industry has lost another chunk of collections.
Also, we didn’t have many hit films. Hopefully, 2018 will turn out to be a good year. All of us have to understand that it’s content alone that works. Movie buffs today watch films from all over the world, so our competition is with world cinema and worldwide content. Our films too are being watched by people all over the globe.
Tanuj Garg, Managing Partner, Ellipsis Entertainment
Like in recent years, 2017 made no exceptions to the small-is-big rule. The success of correctly budgeted, high-content films reaffirmed the importance of economics and rapidly evolved audience tastes. Barring a few event films, everything that was appreciated in 2017 was rich in content. New filmmakers, fresh subjects and innovative marketing are crucial. It was a double whammy for the Ellipsis team. After Neerja and Tumhari Sulu struck gold, it reaffirmed the company’s belief in the path it has chosen.
Sangeetha Ahir, Producer
In this year around 26 big-budget films have flopped. This has been a reality check for our industry as movies with superstars having failed to make their mark at the box office.
Earlier, film trade and filmmakers were under the impression that superstars can hold their own just on their crowd pulling power but looking at the current scenario it seems it doesn’t work that way. It is important for the content to speak for itself. It’s not the Hindi films but Baahubali: The Conclusion that came to the rescue of Bollywood this year. If only Hindi films are taken in account then only 14 movies have performed well at box office such as Golmaal Again!!!, Judwaa 2, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Jolly LLB 2, Mubarakan, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Half Girlfriend, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Sachin – A Billion Dreams, Hindi Medium, Tumhari Sulu and the recently released Fukrey Returns. I am sure that Tiger Zinda Hai will be a big relief to our industry as the promos are looking very good. Overall, it was a tough year for Bollywood at the box office with some small releases doing extremely well. 2018 looks like it’s going to be a very promising year for Bollywood as a broad variety of films is set to grace the silver screen. From sci-fi films to biopics and from rom-coms to sleek action thrillers, the audience is going to be spoilt for choice when it comes to entertainment. Movies to look forward in 2018 are Salman Khan’s Race 3, Akshay Kumar’s PadMan and Gold, Shah Rukh Khan’s dwarf film, Aamir Khan’s Thugs of Hindostan, Ajay Devgn’s Raid, Varun Dhawan’s October and 2.0. I am confident that 2018 will be a bigger and better year for Bollywood.
Sanjay Suri, Producer
As an independent producer, I feel there has been a healthy shift towards content-driven films rather than budget-driven films. While the ecosystem still remains prohibitive for content-driven films to emerge due to mindless marketing costs that producers have to bear, this must change for producers in order to keep making films. We must learn from the Southern industries in these respects. These are also interesting times, when digital is changing consumer habits. Traditional mindsets will have to take a new look at things and innovate.
Atul Kasbekar, Producer
The year 2017 has seen some amazing films like Secret Superstar, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and Fukrey Returns doing really well and posting good numbers. With every passing year, we have come to realise that films that are honest and fresh become the driving force at the box office. We have also invested in two such content-driven movies, Neerja and Tumhari Sulu. I hope that 2018 will see more films like these and that it will be a good year at the box office.
Manish Mundra, Producer
2017 has been a great year for Drishyam, and for good storytelling in general. It has been very heartening for us to witness the successes of smaller films this year, such as Lipstick Under My Burkha, Hindi Medium, and even Newton, while even the biggest tentpole films bombed at the box office. With Newton, we started the year at Berlin and are ending it in LA, aiming for the Oscars. We also released Rukh and Kadvi Hawa, both small gems that were not just very well reviewed but also started important conversations. I expect this trend of ‘content is king’ to continue into the next year and beyond.
Elahe Hiptoola, Producer
It was a very interesting year, one in which we proved over and over again what we have been saying for years but without really meaning it, that ‘content is king’. It also showed us that there was room for all kinds of films, so for every Golmaal Again!!!, there was a Bareilly Ki Barfi and Tumhari Sulu.
Anjum Rizvi, Producer
I believe 2017 wasn’t a good year for our Indian film industry. Apart from a few hits, here and there, it was quite a dull year. The Padmavati delay added to the industry’s losses instead of adding some really good numbers. Let’s hope the new year brings some hope.
In the last few years, films with good content have worked and this happened this year too, with films like Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and Newton, where the content was very good and the films picked up by word-of-mouth promotions. Still, comparatively, this year wasn’t great.
Guneet Monga, Producer
This year, we saw that star power is not always enough and what mattered was good content for a film to work at the box office. All the films that worked had one thing in common – the strength of their content irrespective of the budget or the stars, whether it was Haraamkhor or Hindi Medium or Jolly LLB 2 or Lipstick Under My Burkha or Newton. All these films worked on the merit of their content and that’s a good sign, which is continuing into 2018 as well.
– Soumita Sengupta, Bhakti Mehta, Suranjana Biswas