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Big Bang Beginning

Many of us spent the last few weeks poring over our individual financial affairs in order to keep our unsolicited tryst with the IT department. For some of us, that responsibility extended to finalising books and returns for corporate entities we may be involved with. 

That done, it is time now to take stock of how our Hindi film trade is faring, based on its performance during the first quarter of this year. Check out the table below that provides not only a snapshot of the recently concluded Q1, but also where it stands vis-à-vis similar periods of time over the last decade.

Q 1 Collections, 2009-2018

Q1, Year

Number Of Releases

Q1 NBOC

Per Cent Change Over Q1, Previous Year

Average

NBOC Per Film

Per Cent Change Over Q1, Previous Year

Full Year NBOC

Q 1 as Per Cent Of Full Year

2009

22

`211 crore

NA

`9.6 crore

NA

`1210 crore

17

2010

41

`320 crore

+52

`7.6 crore

-21

`1537 crore

21

2011

21

`228 crore

-28

`10.86 crore

+43

`1769 crore

13

2012

32

`375 crore

+64

`11.72 crore

+8

`2392 crore

16

2013

43

`522 crore

+39

`12.14 crore

+4

`2818 crore

19

2014

46

`520 crore

-0.38

`11.3 crore

-7

`2738 crore

19

2015

56

`385 crore

-26

`6.87 crore

-39

`2775 crore

14

2016

56

`525 crore

+36

`9.37 crore

+36

`2791 crore

19

2017

52

`601 crore

+15

`11.56 crore

+23

`3032 crore

20

2018

54

`852 crore*

+42

`15.78 crore

+37

TBC

TBC

*Provisional figure based on estimated lifetime collections of still-running films

All collections net of taxes and rounded off 

The way to read this table is: 41 Hindi films released in the first quarter of 2010. Collectively, these films amassed `320 crore net at the domestic box office, which was a substantial 52 per cent rise over the previous year’s performance in the corresponding period. However, given the far greater number of releases, the per film average of `7.6 crore represented a 21 per cent fall from what films made, on average, during Q1, 2009. In terms of the overall picture that eventually emerged, the first three months of 2010 contributed 21 per cent to the total collections for the entire calendar year.

Moving on to the focus of this note, the recently concluded quarter, the good (make that fabulous!) news is that with an estimated `850 crore plus generated at the domestic box office by the films that released between January 1 and March 31 2018, we have just witnessed our most remunerative Q1 ever. And by some margin at that – a substantial 42 per cent gain over the previous best seen last year. Thanks to the massive cumulative figure, all-time highs were also recorded in the per film average of `15.78 crore, a 37 per cent jump over last year’s figure.

To a large extent, these records have been made possible by the spectacular performance of a handful of films. With Padmaavat, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety and Baaghi 2 collecting in excess of `100 crore each and Raid certain to do so shortly, Q1 2018 will soon become the first quarter to deliver four `100-crore plus films. Mind you, that is a record for any quarter, not just Q1. Besides these centurions, the record tally was also bolstered by decent numbers from films like Pad Man, Hate Story IV and Hichki.

However, before we get swept up in the euphoria of Q1’s substantial topline, let us acknowledge that this record is somewhat fortuitous. As we are all aware, this quarter’s highest-grossing film, Padmaavat, was originally slated to release on December 1, 2017, but was forced to postpone its debut in the face of various (and entirely unjustified) challenges and protests from multiple parties, including certain state governments. Had Padmaavat kept its scheduled release date, the Q1 figure for 2018 would be lighter by over `280 crore, making for rather more pedestrian reading. In fact, it would have been lower than the corresponding tally for Q1, 2017. 

Further, if you observe the last column of the chart, typically the first quarter contributes 20 per cent or less to the entire year’s eventual collections. That would seem to suggest that the calendar year 2018 is likely to see a domestic box office of a whopping, unprecedented `4,260 crore. However, this may be another area where we need to tamp down our exuberance and get realistic.

Even though 2018 may have a healthy `250-crore lead over 2017 at the end of the first quarter, there is a `500+ crore gorilla named Baahubali: The Conclusion that we need to match up to in the second quarter now underway or else we might find ourselves back on level pegging, and perhaps even lagging, by the time we prepare our half-yearly report and compare it with 2017’s performance.

In sum, Q1 2018 has certainly given us plenty of reason to celebrate. That said, well begun is just a quarter done and the onus is on all the other films scheduled to release this year to build on this great foundation to make 2018 a truly memorable and record-breaking year in the annals of Hindi film history.

- Nitin Tej Ahuja

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