After a very disappointing year at the box office, Diwali lit the skies bright over tinsel town. What changed? Industry insiders say, ‘Jai content ki!’
Bhakti Mehta, Suranjana Biswas
The prayers paid off and the miracle happened. Not only did we see big-banner films like Golmaal Again!!! and Secret Superstar do well, regional movies like Raja The Great in Telugu, Mersal in Tamil and Kaashi Ambernath in Bhojpuri also got good numbers at the ticket counter.he year gone by has been a roller coaster ride for not only producers, directors and actors but also exhibitors and distributors. Big, starry disappointments led to empty cinema halls and huge losses for the Indian film industry. The light, however, seems to be finally coming back. After the strong collections of Judwaa 2 in September, everyone was hoping for a Diwali miracle.
In short, the phatakas burst loud and lit the skies bright during Diwali week in the film industry.
The positive Diwali vibe, supported by strong content, worked so well for all these releases that they managed to earn around Rs 80 crore in first-day collections, collectively. This was a difficult feat and a very encouraging development for the entire industry, considering the dark year that has been.
Voicing their exhilaration, industry voices from across India come together to give us their take on this Diwali marvel.
Diwali witnesses the release of some of the biggest films of the year and the trend continued this year as well with Golmaal Again!!!, Secret Superstar and Mersal – all of which enjoyed good openings. Apart from Mersal, even Raja The Great (Telugu) did well at the box office. This Diwali’s box office collections were significantly higher compared to some of the previous years, since all four films did well, which is usually not the case. This can be attributed to each of these films benefitting from a different marketing and promotion strategy and appealing to different sets of audience.
Festival weekends and holidays allow the audience to watch their preferred films over more days compared to just the weekend at any other time of the year. This gives ample opportunities to more films releasing on the same day. In addition, people are generally in an upbeat, festive mood, which ensures that they go out to watch movies in relatively larger groups. They are also more inclined towards watching a film without their decision depending too much on reviews or other external factors. During this festive period, viewers prefer show times between 6 pm and 8 pm.
Managing Director, Raksha Ent Pvt Ltd
Diwali has always been a festive and auspicious holiday season. Families flock to cinemas and also the common man gets a bonus at work, which allows him to spend more than usual. Traditionally, films with big stars, producers and directors have done well during this period. Rohit Shetty’s films – Golmaal 2, All The Best, Golmaal 3 and now Golmaal Again!!! – have always done well during Diwali as they cater to the target audience – families, masses and kids. This is the recipe of a perfect film for the festive season!
Other films like Secret Superstar had fantastic reviews and word-of-mouth to boost their collections. The Tamil film starring Vijay is a big film with an even bigger star. The Telugu and Bhojpuri film both catered to their respective audiences, who are looking for local flavour in their films. So, it has been a very bright Diwali and we should thank God for being so generous to the film industry. It also proves that there is always light at the end of the tunnel!
The festival season has yielded bumper collections. The same movies which did so well now would have performed 30-40 per cent less if they had been released during a regular week. All the movies, including the regional ones, have benefitted from the long festival weekend. At the end of the day, box office matters for all kinds of cinemas, so this is a very positive thing to have come out of 2017.
All the regional films, including Bhojpuri, Tamil and Telugu, were commercial, masala films and they were all blockbusters. Secret Superstar earned well only in metropolitan cities and some good multiplexes, not at single screens or in B and C-class towns. Golmaal worked because of the long weekend and the Diwali mood, even though it doesn’t really have a script. Raja The Great is a commercial Telugu film and Mersal worked because of its political backdrop.
Basically, all the films worked because of the festive weekend of five days. Secret Superstar would have done much better if it had released some other time because everyone was consumed by Golmaal. In the South, people are consuming these commercial films. Also, I feel there is nothing new in Secret Superstar. It is very similar to Sultan, Dangal and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. All these films have a protagonist who achieves a goal.
Chief Marketing Officer, UFO Moviez
During the last couple of months, there has been a dampener on the box office. However, the Diwali break brought much-needed cheer as movies across languages and regions fared very well. All these releases took a massive opening for different reasons – the extended holiday break which gave films an opportunity to cash in on family viewing; content targeted at the family audience; different genres of movies, hence no competition for the same audience; and of course, big banner films supported by smart marketing.
During the Diwali break, people are positively disposed towards spending and this maximises cinema footfalls and makes it a win-win situation for all stakeholders – the audience, exhibitors, distributors and advertisers. We, at UFO Moviez, have also witnessed an upswing in on-screen advertising through the Diwali weekend. The line-up of movies (Padmavati, Firangi, Tiger Zinda Hai) post-Diwali is only getting better and we are confident that box office collections as well as advertising revenue will end the year on a high note.
Programmer, Movie Time
We have seen a progressive change in recent times, a change for the better and this is because the audience is changing. Their quest to absorb and understand content has become more mature and realistic. This has made filmmakers and producers content-centric because they have finally realised that they cannot give the audience something that is not genuine. Also, the pattern of content absorption is changing and it has become very accessible and instant, with competitors like Netflix and Amazon Prime offering good, meaningful content. I believe it’s healthy competition which will result in meaningful content being delivered to the audience.
It is no longer important for us to believe that only good-looking people can fall in love, which we used to see in films. We have been witnessing a paradigm shift in content and the people coming to cinemas to watch them. Our target audience is the smart, intelligent, progressive, futuristic believer who doesn’t believe in artificial facts but is interested in seeing what’s realistic.
Distributor, Nanaksar Enterprises
The expectations of the audience began to build after Judwaa 2 released. The collections of that movie were very good despite it releasing in the dull week of Dusshera. Usually, in our North region, movies don’t work during Dusshera but the opening and later collections of Judwaa 2 created a positive feeling among all.
People knew that the upcoming Diwali week would bring Golmaal along with the Aamir Khan brand in Secret Superstar, which too has immense value. However, after the first week of Judwaa 2, there was a vacuum and no other film sustained after that till these Diwali releases. So the benefit of this vacuum went to Golmaal Again!!! and Secret Superstar as well as the other regional movies in their sectors.
The content was also appreciated a lot. I said earlier that the movies before did not have strong content. We had released Salman Khan’s Tubelight in the good week of Eid but it turned out to be bad for us because no one came to watch the film. That was because the film’s content was not appreciated by the audience. It was the same with Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Harry Met Sejal. We wasted a very good holiday of Raksha Bandhan on that film. In the North, this is usually a very profitable season for Bollywood films. But not this year, thanks to bad content.
Coming back to Golmaal Again!!! and Secret Superstar… the reason they have worked is because of the Diwali weekend and their good content. Also, the hype of both these movies was huge and they lived up to it. Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar had a lot of word-of-mouth for its strong performances and content. And Golmaal Again!!!, we know, is a family entertainer that attracts both elders and kids. It has done wonders all over India. The vacuum and the marketing hype worked well for both films. Even the regional films did decent business.
A Punjabi movie also released on Diwali. It didn’t do very well but it stood its ground. We haven’t had a Punjabi movie release in this festive period in some time but this movie did decently. Every film has a space in our Indian box office. The only requirement is that the content should be strong. There was a time when producers used to make proposals based on star cast. That doesn’t mean anything anymore. What matters is content. Judwaa 2, Golmaal Again!!! and Secret Superstar have done well due to their content and this should continue so that the industry prospers.
I too feel we may not have got the same kind of numbers if these films had released on a regular Friday. I think this is a very good thing for the entire industry – actors, producers etc. – not just us distributors. Diwali is a good weekend where films work but films also need to have content to work. Diwali adds an attraction, nothing more. It brings people into theatres and you get a long weekend. Ultimately, the content of these films was very strong. Golmaal Again!!! is a good franchise and it would have worked regardless of when it released. As for Secret Superstar, Aamir Khan knows exactly what the public wants. He knows how to hit the nail on the head. Both these films had to do well, thanks to the content they had. As for the regional films… it was their strong content too that saw them make good money at the box office. Content always works.
All the movies have undoubtedly done very well. In our territory of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, they have raked in good numbers. Golmaal Again!!! has done especially well in multiplexes as well as single screen cinemas, whereas films usually work in either one of the two kinds of theatres. Golmaal Again!!! is a super hit movie, and audiences in big and small towns have accepted it.
Secret Superstar has also received good feedback. It has had steady collections but in Delhi and UP its collections are less than that of Golmaal Again!!!. The movie has received strong word-of-mouth publicity and we have to wait and see how it fares during the week. But, yes, the weekend was pretty good for both these movies and the other films. After this positive Diwali, expectations from Padmavati and Tiger Zinda Hai are very high. Let’s hope the future is bright for us, just like Diwali was.
AVP, Operations, Miraj Cinemas
Diwali is a festive time where people are in an altogether different mood. They are happy and want to be entertained with fun, happy films. The comedy genre is a hit during this season and has proved to be a hit before as well. That is why, when you compare the collections of Golmaal Again!!! and Secret Superstar, the former broke all records whereas the latter, being the one with amazing content, did not perform all that well in terms of commercial value.
Genre always plays an important role during festivals as it must relate to the public’s mood and everything else. Diwali is the biggest festival in India and so movies always do well. Golmaal Again!!! is a huge hit and Secret Superstar is catching up. Also, we have extended weekends in many regional areas. Like in Gujarat, they celebrate the seventh day, eighth day, etc. So when weekends are long, the appetite to consume movies is also big, which results in amazing collections. In Gujarat, even on weekdays, cinemas were packed to capacity. That is why Bollywood movies and other regional films have done so well at the box office this time.
I think that when we release a film, we should release it according to the mood of the public in general and in particular, regional sectors. Golmaal Again!!! is the perfect example of this and that is why the film has broken so many records.
Regional cinema is increasingly playing a very important role in our overall box office collections and contributes 20-25 per cent on the national level in the Indian film industry. So wherever there is good content, it has an edge over other films, whether regional or Bollywood.
There are a few holidays in a year, like Jan 26, Aug 15, Oct 2, Diwali and Dec 25 which will always be big and offer movies a chance at collecting more revenue. These are the dates when people have spare time and want to spend their time watching movies. If these holidays fall on a Thursday, Friday or a Monday, then it helps to make it a long weekend.
Strong regional content is the icing on the cake for exhibitors as it helps increase box office collections. Mersal and Raja The Great are South movies that are performing exceptionally in the South along with Bollywood releases, and are performing amazingly in North centers as well. This indicates that there is a greater potential for South movies to generate revenue in the North. In Cinepolis, the contribution of regional releases is around 22 per cent of the total box office revenue.
So, the wonderful performance at the box office during Diwali is due to a mix of content and the occasion itself.
Yes, the weekend may have been good but the days following the weekend showed that when two national language films clash, both are compromised. Mersal was just great; luckily for us, there were no big Bengali releases.
I strongly believe that no hero, heroine, or anything else can save a movie except its script. This is the only factor for a movie to click and that’s what happened with the Diwali releases. The other factors are just add-ons. Audiences came out of cinemas with a smile on their face because they got to watch some good content-driven films. Hopefully, this will continue in the coming months.
The two Hindi films did look good which is why the audience went to watch them. Everybody was happy after coming out of the cinemas. Diwali is good for our trade. Everybody has earned well. Let’s just hope that in the future too, two big movies release during the festive season and that they have space for it. Usually, it’s just one film that releases during this time but then, times are changing.
The Diwali releases worked due to the buoyant mood of the festive season and also because the content of these movies was strong. Content does matter and a bad film wouldn’t work during a festive season. People are in the mood to spend money during festivals and that helps the box office. A combination of these factors made the films work well at the box office.