The recently-concluded third quarter of 2016 was a very interesting period indeed for the trade, and that’s putting it mildly. Q3 both began and ended with a bang, thanks to Sultan and MS Dhoni: The Untold Story that marked the first and final release dates of the quarter, respectively; and was bolstered by strong performances from Rustom and Pink in between. However, as is par for course in this business, the disappointments far outnumbered the bright spots.
But what made the last three months more significant than most is the nature of these setbacks. When hitherto successful franchises and ‘sure-shot jodis’ of A-league superstars and eminent directors start coming short at the box office, even the most ardent adherents of the status quo would agree that the audience is demanding a revamp of our content offering. And when one of the pioneers of the studio movement in this country, UTV Motion Pictures/Disney India, indefinitely suspends local production and many other banners decide to go slow, whether they announce it officially or not, obviously a relook at our entire business model is in order.
Clearly, the impact of Q3, 2016 shall continue to be felt for a very long time, even though that period itself has passed into history. For now, let’s examine what the numbers say about the performance of this particular quarter and try and get a sense of how the year is shaping up at the box office vis-à-vis the last few years. Take a look at the table below:
Seen in isolation, the last quarter has been a pretty decent one for the trade. In fact, it is the most productive Q3 on record from an aggregate collections perspective. However, that seemingly impressive figure has to be weighed against the fact that the quarter also saw a record 171 releases.
A similar mixed bag is also on view when we zoom out a bit to look at the larger picture of the year so far, compared to the corresponding period in recent years. We can take heart from the fact that we have been able to outdo the performance of the last couple of years. Yet, the fact that we were in a stronger position at this point in tells us that we haven’t fully recovered from the downturn that set in post that year.
That said, this business is all about counting your blessings and clutching on to glimmers of hope. With a strong line-up scheduled for the remainder of this year – Shivaay, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Rock On 2, Force 2, Dear Zindagi, Kahaani 2, Befikre and Dangal, among others – the odds are in favour of 2016 ending up as the highest grossing year of all time in terms of domestic collections.
And that, given the uncertainty that came to fore in Q3, will be just the pick-me-up tonic we need as we usher in the new year.