Even as the film industry enters its final quarter, all eyes and hopes are on the remaining releases to revive tinsel town — three out-and-out commercial and five content-laden flicks. Who will get the cash registers ringing? The industry weighs in.
BHAKTI MEHTA, SURANJANA BISWAS
It is that time of the year when everyone starts analysing the year that has been for the film industry. So far, business hasn’t been good.
There were high expectations and many failures. Many films failed at the box office, many failed to live up to expectations.
Tubelight, Jab Harry Met Sejal and Jagga Jasoos are the biggest examples.
While the biggies failed to impress, content-driven films marched ahead to victory at the ticket counter. Five little movies that did big business were — Hindi Medium, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Newton. From the biggies, it was only Raees, Kaabil, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Judwaa 2 that worked.
With few weeks to go for this year to end, three biggies are hoping to create magic at the BO — Golmaal Again!!!, Padmavati and Tiger Zinda Hai. While Secret Superstar may not be considered a traditional ‘biggie’, it can surely be called one with Aamir Khan as its main promotional attraction, whose movies have been consistently setting new records since Ghajini.
Not to be left behind, content-driven films waiting to make a mark at the ticket counters before the year is over are — Manoj Bajpayee’s Rukh, Sidharth Malhotra, Sonakshi Sinha and Akshaye Khanna’s Ittefaq, Irrfan’s Qarib Qarib Singlle, Vidya Balan’s Tumhari Sulu and Excel Entertainments’ Fukrey Returns.
Will the biggies out-do the content-driven films at the box office? Which category will make the business of movies profitable once again this year? While one’s guess is as good as any, some things are best left to the experts to decode:
VIVEK KRISHNANI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT, INDIA
2017 has been a red herring year for us because we have been squarely told by audiences that if our content isn’t good, it won’t work. Star power has given way to content and that’s also why so many leading stars are consciously pushing the envelope by doing films that are different and don’t just depend on them.
There are great hopes from Golmaal Again!!!, Padmavati and Tiger Zinda Hai – each of these films has already generated great buzz and are likely to be blockbusters but that’s also because either there is a new story to tell or because there is a huge franchise value attached to it.
Of course, pan-India, commercial films will definitely do well. All these films — Tiger Zinda Hai, Padmavati, Golmaal Again!!! — are going to be big hits because they are meant for a family audience. Content-driven films are doing well, but not that great as their budgets are very low. Of course, they are earning well. If the script is good, a film definitely works well, whether commercial or content-driven.
Yes, I feel these films will revive the collections at the box office. Looking at the success of Judwaa 2, it feels that these commercial films will taste success at the box office. All the three biggies look great and have a lot of potential. They will help us get over the bad phase that we are experiencing right now. I think a good film with good entertainment value will achieve success. People should enjoy the film and that’s how it works. Content-driven films will definitely balance out the commercial equation.
It is not so much that most films have performed poorly at the box office this year. It is because most A-lister
films have performed below the mark. What’s common between all of them is that the content failed to appeal to the audience. However, we have seen that few smaller-scale films have performed well, be it Haraamkhor, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Newton and films like Hindi Medium, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan.
Out of the big ticket films in this last quarter that are up for release, two are franchise films and the third one is a most-awaited film for a couple years. Also, given that it’s the holiday season, one would expect that the box office performance of these films will be in the green. In the last couple of years, we have seen that the absolute line between commercial and content-driven films is blurring. It is not necessary that all smaller films are content-driven and all big-scale films are purely commercial. It is a given now that the audience isn’t willing to lap up films without any substance in them. Barring out-and-out comedies and few franchises, filmmakers also now realise that irrespective of how commercially the film is packaged, it still needs a strong script in order for it to work at the box office.
We have to look at it like this: that they (the three biggies) are content-driven films. For them now, the biggest challenge is the digital platform. To make people go to the theatres, you actually have to push them into the theatres which can be done by a big star or a massive production house. It is more difficult to do this today because they (the stars) are available right at your desktop, on your iPhone, etc.
Small budget films will face competition in the digital scenario too. Lipstick Under My Burkha (LUMB) or for that matter Newton are recent examples, they were good films, but again LUMB had to face controversies. Content-driven films have become fashion. People will go to the theatres only if these films have good word-of-mouth. Nowadays, people go to theatres when they get to see a certain Bahubaali, or if the film has any of the Khans! It is a theatrical experience for them. I feel India still needs to explore the horror and thriller genre that will let the audience enjoy the film in a theatre, irrespective of a star cast. You have to give strong reasons to the audience to go to the theatre. Ittefaq, despite having strong content, has big names to back the film like Karan Johar, Shah Rukh Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, and Sidharth Malhotra. They still have the power to bring the audience to the theatre. You are getting so much sitting at home, from the digital platforms, that nobody is willing to go to the theatres if it is not worth it.
Going by the trailers, all three films should do well and hopefully end the year on a positive note. Personally, I see no reason why content-driven films can’t be commercial. This year has been proof of that.
The audience has so much exposure today. They are selective in their viewing habits. As an audience, one decides to see a film based on a trailer. Humour in a film is welcome at any time.
A film, whether it has stars or not, should have content. It has to engage the viewer for more than two hours. Dangal for me was a perfect film. It has everything — great script, superb music and outstanding performances. Once in a while, we achieve this combination. Mr Aamir Khan manages this every time. A film is either good or not. So it’s not about pitching stars against content. It’s a combination of both. We can’t make films without good actors. And there is no point in being a good actor if you don’t have a good script. There has to be a mutual balance. There is so much hard work that goes into making a film; I wish everyone would achieve success.
They all seem to be big ticket entertainment and likely to fill box office coffers. Luckily, they belong to different genres but, God forbid, if they don’t, we will be left asking — what kind of films should we be making, massy entertainers or realistic, quasi-realistic high-concept films?
I think these are the few most-awaited movies of this year. If they work, the box office will surely revive. Yes, I am hopeful about that. Content-driven films are being appreciated across the country. As more such movies are made, we can expect a substantial balance between content-driven films and commercial movies.
The films that haven’t worked at the box office are those with weak content. The films that had good content, worked pretty well at the box office. Stars who do not get any importance have done miracles. You can take a look at Subh Mangal Saavdhan, Bareily Ki Barfi. Their content has made them successful. Most of the times, we have concentrated on the star cast with no content. While Shah Rukh’s and Salman’s films usually do well, this time, due to lack of content, they didn’t. There is hope that Padmavati and Tiger Zinda
Hai will make up for the losses. They are big banner films and the makers are efficient as well.
PROPRIETOR, AUM MOVIEZ
Judwaa 2 did well, no doubt, but it is relatively a smaller budget film compared to Tubelight or When Harry Met Sejal. These films have high costs of distribution and Judwaa 2 can never make up for the losses of Salman, Shah Rukh, or Aamir. We certainly hope that they can help recover the losses, because not only the distributors, even the exhibitors are at a loss. Right now, it is too early to say. The content-driven films do not add much to the bottomline. Those films do well in their own space. But as far as distributors are concerned, they are not so fruitful.
Talking about the industry as a whole, the three big films look very promising. Golmaal Again!!! looks promising, Padmavati looks fabulous and Tiger Zinda Hai is going to be commercial. Salman will be doing the kind of role that he needs to do. These three films will get back the happy days for the industry. We are dependent on these three films right now. I also feel Secret Superstar is going to do well. To recover such huge loses is not easy. Since last year, post Dangal, the phase has been too bad except Bahubaali. A supremely entertaining film can have good content and vice-versa. We are required to concentrate on the entertainment part along with content.
THEATRE OWNER, U.P.
The recovery will depend on the subsequent products that are coming up. At times, certain losses are suffered by certain distributors. So, if the commercial biggies that are on their way, are done by other distributors, obviously the loss doesn’t get recovered. So that doesn’t make up for the previous losses. There is a strong possibility for the films to help the industry as a whole, but specific distributors might not be benefited. A few films have done well this past year but for the upcoming movies, one really cannot predict. This year we have seen many films which were expected to do well but didn’t do so in the end. The response to the Padmavati trailer is fantastic, so there is hope that the next three months are good for the movies at the box office.
I have a lot of hope that these big films will do well. It is very painful, actually, the losses that I have faced. I still haven’t recovered money. Golmaal Again!!! has received good hype; ditto Padmavati. I have very high expectations from Tiger Zinda Hai, because the losses that Salman faced due to his last film will see him bounce back. Secret Superstar is not a small film. It is very similar to Taare Zameen Par and has a very strong message which will resonate with the audience. Films like Hindi Medium doing well at the box office is a miracle. Yet, the loss never gets covered.
Everybody is banking on these three films because they are really good. However, no one can really ensure their success. We will get to know their state only after their release. All three look promising and might make up for some of the losses. I am assuming there will be a balance between the upcoming commercial and content-driven films. There is Secret Superstar also, so I am looking forward to a good last quarter.