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The Empire Strikes Back?

While 2017 may not have been a fabulous year for the Hindi film box office as a whole, it was redeemed somewhat by the tendency of the few films that did succeed to score big — from Golmaal Again!!! going past the `200-crore mark to Tiger Zinda Hai comfortably taking down the `300-crore marker. Not to forget, of course, Baahubali: The Conclusion’s eye-popping `500 crore+ tally for its Hindi dubbed version alone.  

Somewhat surprisingly, the same phenomenon of record-breaking numbers wasn’t replicated by Hollywood films in our market. Indeed, with the number one Hollywood film in India last year, The Fate Of The Furious, falling a shade short of the three-figure mark (around `95 crore net), 2017 couldn’t repeat the preceding two years’ feat of delivering Hollywood centurions through Furious 7 (2015) and The Jungle Book (2016).

Does that mean that the Hindi film industry has finally come to grips with the threat from Hollywood imports and started to reclaim lost ground? Let us see what the data has to say on this. Check out the table below that compares the cumulative collections of both Hindi and Hollywood films over the last few years: 

Cumulative Domestic Box Office Collections, 2009-17

 

Hindi Films

Hollywood Films

Year

Total NBOC

Per Cent Change Over Previous Year

Total NBOC

Per Cent Change Over Previous Year

2009

`1210 crore

NA

`194 crore

NA

2010

`1537 crore

+27

`294 crore

+52

2011

`1769 crore

+15

`332 crore

+13

2012

`2392 crore

+35

`455 crore

+37

2013

`2818 crore

+18

`364 crore

-20

2014

`2738 crore

-3

`448 crore

+23

2015

`2775 crore

+1

`626 crore

+40

2016

`2791 crore

+.06

`770 crore

+23

2017

`3032 crore

+8

`825 crore

+7

 

 

It’s a simple chart to read and an instructive one for those interested in tracking the trajectory of the performance of both sets of films in India over the last decade. However, in terms of the topic we are discussing this week, please pay special attention to the year-on-year numbers for 2017 over 2016.

With the Hindi box office growing at 8 per cent in 2017 compared to a 7 per cent rise in Hollywood films’ India collections, the data would prima facie seem to indicate a Bollywood pushback, albeit a marginal one. To add further heft to that hypothesis, after 2013, the rate of growth recorded by Hollywood films last year was their second lowest.

So has the western conquest been quelled and is it time for Hindi cinema to sound the victory bugle? Short answer to that question: not really! And we would know that in a week where despite a pedigreed and high-profile Hindi release last Friday, Aiyaary, it is Marvel’s Black Panther that has topped the charts.

Even if we gloss over the fact that almost 20 per cent of the ‘Hindi’ films’ tally was contributed by what actually was a dubbed version of a Telugu film, the table above isn’t really an apples-to-apples comparison as it leaves out a key data point — the vastly different quantum of output for both groupings of films. 

To address that, the table below compares average collections per film for both Hindi and Hollywood films once you factor in the number of releases that contributed to their respective top-lines.

Average Collections Per Film, 2009-17

 

Hindi Films

Hollywood Films

 

Year

Number Of Releases

Average NBOC Per Film

Per Cent Change Over Previous Year

Number Of Releases

Average NBOC Per Film

Per Cent Change Over Previous Year

Hollywood Average As Per Cent of Hindi Average

2009

91

`13.3 crore

NA

60

`3.23 crore

NA

24

2010

150

`10.24 crore

-23

74

`3.97 crore

+23

39

2011

128

`13.82 crore

+35

67

`4.96 crore

+25

36

2012

149

`16.05 crore

+16

55

`8.27 crore

+67

52

2013

174

`16.2 crore

+1

53

`6.87 crore

-18

42

2014

195

`14.04 crore

-13

56

`8 crore

+14

57

2015

210

`13.21 crore

-6

60

`10.43 crore

+30

79

2016

226

`12.35 crore

-7

70

`11 crore

+7

89

2017

248

`12.23 crore

-1

57

`14.47 crore

+32

118

 

 

Once you introduce this parameter, the ‘tables’ turn, quite literally! On a per film basis, Hollywood actually soared to all-time highs in 2017 and grew by a substantial 32 per cent over 2016’s numbers. In comparison, Hindi films experienced their fourth consecutive year of decline, slumping to the second-lowest average for the period under review.

Perhaps nothing illustrates Hollywood’s unrelenting march better than the last column of the table. In 2009, a Hollywood film did not even make a quarter of what a Hindi film earned. However, virtually each year, the gap has been rapidly narrowed. So much so, last year the average collection of a Hollywood film was almost 20 per cent more than that of a Hindi film.

In sum, in the film business — much like in cricket — it’s often the side with consistent contributions all around that trumps the team that has a few star individuals propping up the underperforming majority.

Byline: Nitin Tej Ahuja

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