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Christmas Cracker?

With Tiger Zinda Hai now playing in theatres, all hopes are pinned on the last major release of 2017 to set the cash registers ringing, and at least end on a high note what has been a year replete with many depressing lows.

If the battle for the box office is one best fought with heavy artillery, you would be hard pressed to find a film better equipped than Tiger Zinda Hai. A sequel to a huge blockbuster, produced by one of India’s most respected and successful banners, helmed by a director of proven competence and track-record, top lined by Hindi cinema’s most fanatically adored current superstar and a bankable female lead – the film ticks all the right boxes when it comes to forecasting potential blockbusters. And going by the smashing opening that the film has taken as we head to press, it is well on its way to achieving its enormous potential.

What Tiger Zinda Hai also has going for it is its release strategy, in particular its choice of the Christmas weekend to debut. While this period has in any case become a mainstay of our annual release calendar, the dice has landed even more kindly this year with both Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Monday, thereby giving the film extended, four-day weekends in both its first and second weeks.

Traditionally, the Christmas release window was the most sought-after in Hollywood, while it was the Diwali weekend that was most keenly coveted by Hindi filmmakers. Interestingly, over the last decade or so, both industries have witnessed a somewhat divergent shift in trends. Most Hollywood tent poles now target the summer season, thereby taking some of the sheen off the Christmas window.  Conversely, the Hindi market has seen the Christmas and Eid weekends challenge – and supplant – the Diwali weekend as the most remunerative time to release.

The rise in the importance of the Christmas weekend for the Hindi film box office becomes even clearer once you look at the collections generated by this – as also the Eid and Diwali weekends – over the last few years. Check out the table below:

The King Of Good Times: Festival Release Collections, 2009-2017

Year Christmas Release/s Cumulative Domestic NBOC Eid Release/s Cumulative Domestic NBOC Diwali Release/s Cumulative Domestic NBOC
2009 3 Idiots Rs 202 crore Wanted Rs 60 crore All The Best, Blue, Main Aurr Mrs Khanna Rs 89 crore
2010 Tees Maar Khan Rs 60 crore Dabangg Rs 150 crore Golmaal 3, Action Replayy Rs 137 crore
2011 Don 2 Rs 106 crore Bodygaurd Rs 140 crore Ra.One Rs 116 crore
2012 Dabangg 2 Rs 148 crore Ek Tha Tiger Rs 188 crore Jab Tak Hain Jaan, SOS Rs 227 crore
2013 Dhoom 3 Rs 265 crore Chennai Express Rs 216 crore Krrish 3 Rs 198 crore
2014 PK Rs 325 crore Kick Rs 214 crore Happy New Year Rs 188 crore
2015 Bajirao Mastani, Dilwale Rs 314 crore Bajrangi Bhaijaan Rs 316 crore Prem Ratan Dhan Payo Rs 188 crore
2016 Dangal Rs 375 crore Sultan Rs 300 crore Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Shivaay Rs 212 crore
2017 Tiger Zinda Hai TBC Tubelight Rs 116 crore Golmaal Again!!!, Secret Superstar Rs 264 crore
Total Collections   Rs 1794crore   Rs 1700crore   Rs 1618crore
Average Collections Per Film   Rs 199 Crore   Rs 189 crore   Rs 108 crore

*All figures rounded off to the closest crore

The numbers bear out quite empathically the extent to which the Christmas weekend has emerged as the most revenue-generating period for the Hindi film box office over the last decade. So much so, it outscores the Eid and Diwali weekend tallies even without taking into account the collections of the just-released Tiger Zinda Hai, while the other two festival weekends have this year’s collections included in their respective totals.

Another happy omen for Tiger Zinda Hai can be found in the progression of the record for the highest-grossing Hindi film ever. If you set aside this year’s smash hit Baahubali: The Conclusion, which is a dubbed film, all but one All-Time Number 1 Hindi film has been a Christmas release ever since the Christmas 2008 release, Ghajini, set the trend in motion by becoming the first-ever Hindi film to go past the Rs 100-crore mark. The top rank has subsequently been held by 3 Idiots (2009), Chennai Express (2013), Dhoom 3 (2013), PK (2014) and last year’s Dangal, with Chennai Express being the only non-Christmas release to feature in this hallowed list.

Here’s hoping that Tiger Zinda Hai keeps alive this record-making tradition to make it a very Merry Christmas indeed. If it does so, not only will it alleviate some of the many miseries of 2017, it will also put us in the right frame of mind to usher in 2018 with a Swag Se Swagat!

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