How can the Hindi film industry bounce back from a dismal year that saw more misses than hits? Distributors weigh in
As the industry gears up to start a hopefully promising year in 2018, we continue to analyse the business of films at the box office – during the year 2017. The marquee was graced by some hits which knocked the ball out of the park along with several small films which made a mark thanks to their strong content, earning a decent return on investment (ROI) in 2017.But it was an average year because not all the massive films scored big at the box office. Once again, like last year, the real success stories came wrapped in small-budget films.
Before we ring in the New Year, we asked distributors to name the top three films with the highest ROI in the domestic market. Distributors did the math and named the most profitable films of 2017, from their perspective, and shared their expectations from the huge 2018 line-up. Here’s their verdict:
Balkrishna Shroff, Distributor, Shringar Films
The year 2017 was a bad year, on the whole. It was so bad that the biggest money spinner, Baahubali: The Conclusion, was not a Hindi film; it was a South film dubbed in Hindi. The reason it was a depressing year at the box office is bad content. Under the circumstances, one can hardly
blame the audience for not flocking
Producers are making movies without giving them much thought. Also, the value of the single-screen is declining as filmmakers increasingly make films aimed at the urban, multiplex audience. Still, I am an optimist and therefore believe that 2018 will be good, with Padmavati and many more upcoming movies with great content.
Sarang Chandak, Distributor, Shri Rang Films
Baahubali: The Conclusion and Golmaal Again!!! delivered on our expectations. Apart from these films, the quality of production is fast declining because production houses are only concentrating on the business that comes from multiplexes while taking the single screen audience for granted. Also, filmmakers need to work harder on their scripts. They are not keeping the audience in mind and are thinking only of themselves. They believe that whatever they dream up overnight can be made into a movie.
This year, it was Baahubali: The Conclusion, Golmaal Again!!! and two to three other movies that released from April to June and July that made a huge mark at the box office. In the year 2018, we have high hopes form Padmavati, which has been hyped so much, and also the movie 2.0, which will release on April 27. There are films which are releasing on the eve of Eid and Diwali. Overall, I believe movies will do well in 2018.
Sanjay Ghai, Distributor, Mukta Movies
In 2017, Baahubali: The Conclusion fared incredibly well. Close on its heels was the release of Golmaal Again!!!, which also stormed the box office, and Fukrey Returns also did very well. We are also looking forward to Padmavati, which we hope will be resolved and screened in January 2018. Tiger Zinda Hai is out now and will do great business.
According to me, a film works on the basis of the size of the banners releasing them, but I am also a great supporter of smaller movies as it is good for business when they work. Fukrey Returns has done great business and we are happy it has received appreciation.
I want to add that we don’t have many moviemakers these days for Hindi cinema and that’s why we don’t have many content-driven movies. And that’s because of the interference of corporate companies and the people that are representing it.
Rajesh Thadani, Distributor, Multi Media Combines
Clearly, the winner of 2017, hands down, was Baahubali: The Conclusion. About the overall performance at the box office, I would say that it wasn’t a very encouraging year for the industry. It was, in fact, a couple of smaller films that saved the year. Having said that, there are a few big movies coming up next year and hopefully 2018 will be much better than 2017 was. We have big expectations from 2018. If the movies lined up for release are strong on content, it will be excellent for the industry.
Ravi Machar, Distributor, Indra Films
If you’re talking about return on investment, then Fukrey Returns is a great example. On a different note, movies like Baahubali: The Conclusion are an exception and don’t release often. This film, as well as Fukrey Returns, was a franchise film and both these franchises have done unbelievably well. Distributors as well as exhibitors had a tough time this year and we can only hope that the next year is better.
The competition for movies has never been so intense and filmmakers have to up their game or lose out in the race for eyeballs. In the last 12 months, web streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon India and Jio have caught on very well just as TV programs have raised the bar. All these mediums are luring movie-goers away and filmmakers have to make a huge effort to woo them back.
To achieve this, one, we need good content. Second, pricing is very important for the survival of this industry in India as it has become very expensive for a family to watch a movie at a multiplex, food & beverages included. For movie buffs, an obvious alternative is watching movies on web streaming platforms. What will we do when they start streaming movies on the day of their theatrical release?
Coming back to pricing, exhibitors should come together and look into the matter. In the South, there are many rules that govern the pricing of tickets, which keeps them affordable. How many people in India can afford to spend an average Rs 2,000 on a film?
Another blow to the Hindi film industry is the death of single-screen cinemas. They are rapidly shutting down for want of content. They simply do not have enough films to screen because distributors are not giving them films and the single-screen audience is turning to web streaming services to get their entertainment fix.
These platforms pose a very real threat to movies as more and more reputed producers and actors toss their hats into the ring and as these platforms make a concerted effort to put out engaging original content. In fact, one Indian streaming service is offering massive sums to top Hindi stars while promising to release their films on smartphones and other digital devices on the same day as their theatrical release. And, mind you, all this is available for a paltry Rs 150 per month, per subscriber!
While we cannot stop the relentless march of technology, we can counter it by making films with great content. Next year has many promising films lined up and we will hopefully do much better next year than we did this year. We have movies like Padmavati coming up in January or February and there will be Salman Khan, Varun Dhawan and Akshay Kumar movies releasing in 2018. I believe next year will be much better.
Sunil Bansal, Distributor, Yash Raj Jai Pictures
The film of the year was Baahubali: The Conclusion, followed by Golmaal Again!!!. This year, we didn’t have good software at all, which is why everybody suffered. Here’s something to think about. The demand for multiplexes is so high that ticket rates should be lowered. For exhibitors, 2017 was a really bad year. At least, we will be closing out 2017 with a good movie like Tiger Zinda Hai and I am hopeful that next year will be much better than 2017.
Arun Mehra, Distributor, Aum Moviez
This year, distributors saw more downs than ups. Yes, 2017 has been pretty bad because most movies did not succeed, including many big-budget films. Then, Padmavati was postponed and now all hopes rest on Tiger Zinda Hai. Baahubali: The Conclusion was stupendous but it was an exception. I don’t think any film will recreate its success any time soon. The problem is we are lacking in good content, which is why most films fail. It is the small-budget movies that have, in fact, left a mark except that they don’t really make much money. I am not sure what to expect from 2018 and one can only hope it fares better than 2017. There are movies to look forward to but we don’t know what the content is like.
Sakshi Mehra, Distributor, Reliance Entertainment
We really hope we see something good happening in 2018. We did not have any major blockbusters this year, and among the films that did really well was Golmaal Again!!!. The number of films that did well at the ticket counter is very low compared to the previous year and that’s all because of the content. And those films with a good star cast that did well, performed well because of content. So everything depends on the content.
I believe that it is what you give to the public. If we give universal films which attract all types of audiences, I guess that will definitely be better, so people from all strata can watch it.
On the other hand, our production values are now comparable to those of any Hollywood film. Another important thing to remember is that a movie must be relatable for it to bring in the audience. This worked very well with Fukrey Returns. We really don’t know what to expect from 2018.
Vinay Choksey, Distributor, VIP Enterprise
I think 2017 wasn’t all that good for us except for movies like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Fukrey Returns, which have done a little better. Baahubali: The Conclusion was iconic and head and shoulders above the rest. It is literally incomparable. Single-screens are in terrible shape because movies are being made largely for the urban audience. Add to that the impact of GST and these cinemas can barely survive. We are hoping that 2018 is a good year.
Amit Ashwati, Distributor, Reliance Entertainment
In 2017, the films that did well were Golmaal Again!!!, Secret Superstar and Fukrey Returns. For 2018, we have a very good line-up. There are many great movies coming up such as Padmavati, Tiger Zinda Hai, Race 3 and others, and I believe that 2018 will be a much better year than 2017 was.
Poor content accounts for why most films did not work in 2017. Also, there were so many movies made only for the multiplex audience even though single-screens contribute a great deal to the overall box-office kitty. We really need to produce mass films to generate revenue. If you want to make a 100-crore movie or a 200-crore movie, you have to cater to the B and C audience as well.
BH Basha, Distributor, Bahar Enterprises
Two major reasons Hindi films did not do well this year are demonitisation and the impact of GST. Both these factors adversely affected movie collections. There were only a few movies that brought in the desired footfalls, like Gomaal Again!!!. Next year holds out some promise as we have films like Padmavati and PadMan lined up for release. I really hope next year will be a great one for the industry.
Jeetu Khandelwal, Distributor, Orissa
There haven’t been many films that have worked this year. The biggest one was obviously the South, dubbed movie Baahubali: The Conclusion. Other than that, we had a few successes like Judwaa 2, Golmaal Again!!! and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. The biggest shock was Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan failing in their films, Jab Harry Met Sejal and Tubelight. That amounted to a huge loss. There were other multiplex films that did well like Tumhari Sulu, Fukrey Returns, Hindi Medium, etc but distributors did not make the kind of profits they need to make in a year.
We are hoping to close the year on a big note, thanks to Tiger Zinda Hai. We hope the final days of December bring us good collections before we close our books on December 31, 2017. As for next year, we have a lot of expectations riding on 2018, with big movies like 2.0, PadMan and Race 3 coming out. A lot of good Hollywood movies are also lined up and people are excited about them. Let’s see if 2018 can make up for the losses of 2017, which was an extremely bad year for all of us. The only saving grace is that it would have been worse if not for the multi-crore business of Baahubali: The Conclusion.
Bhumika Tiwari, Distributor, Zee Studios
The landmark film of the year was Baahubali: The Conclusion, which earned `500 crore. There is a lot of potential in Bollywood, with films like Hindi Medium and Secret Superstar making a very strong impression on the audience. These movies prove that content matters a lot as the subject line delivers the message. It is imperative that people create more original content and there is no question that Bollywood needs to up its game, considering that regional movies are working very well, whether Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil or Telegu. They have started working in North India too. In fact, we would even say that regional is going national now.
The year 2018 looks good, with films like PadMan lined up for release. There is also a Shah Rukh Khan film that sounds interesting. I think 2.0 could be the next Baahubali: The Conclusion. Hollywood too is set to release some really promising films. Also, there are many women-centric movies to look forward to, like Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi and Padmavati. Dhadak also sounds interesting and the story is already a hit with the Marathi film Sairat. Another small film, Majid Majidi’s Beyond The Clouds, is a film to look forward to. I believe things will fall into place next year and we have a lot to look forward to.
– Bhakti Mehta, Sanghamitra Gogoi