The good news is that thanks to a late surge by the rain gods in the last couple of weeks – a period when typically the monsoon starts receding – India shall experience what is classified as ‘normal’ rainfall this year, something that looked highly unlikely at one point in time.
Another deluge, though one not as welcomed, is the droves of new releases that keep pouring on the box office each Friday.
So while the eight films that released last week are still struggling to find their feet (read: screens), MS Dhoni: The Untold Story along with two other releases joined the gang this Friday with another three films waiting in the wings to hit the screens on the coming Friday. If that was not enough, there’s another batch of eight films scheduled for the following week, October 14! It bears emphasising that the numbers cited above are for Hindi films alone and don’t include Hollywood or regional language films.
On various occasions on this page, we have examined, and opined on, the repercussions of this multiplicity of releases, as also the seeming inevitability of the same. So we are not walking down that same path again. Instead, we thought it could be interesting, for academic reasons if nothing else, to see the trends emerging over the years and whether the prolificacy of the release calendar this year is really unprecedented or exaggerated by the human tendency to often amplify the present.
So take a look at the table below that looks at the number of releases during the corresponding periods of recent years, as also what the final annual release count was for completed years:
The numbers speak for themselves and clearly show an almost uninterrupted trend of the quantum of releases increasing every year, with 2011 being the only exception thanks to cricket holding sway for a substantial period of four months with the IPL immediately following the ODI World Cup that was held in India. And the table also confirms that the first nine months this year have indeed been the busiest ever.
Mathematically, 171 releases over 39 weekends should translate to around four releases a week but obviously, the actual number varies week-by-week. So while a formidable Sultan will get a wide berth, a weekend with no obvious heavyweight will have a disproportionate number of films trying their luck. The weekly fluctuations in the release calendar can be more fully understood from the table below that maps how frequently a certain number of films released simultaneously during this year:
The way to read this table is: of the 39 weekends during the year so far, there was only one Friday (January 1, 2016) that saw no new releases, only two weekends (July 6 and July 15) had a solo release, five weeks saw two films go head-to-head, so on and so forth.
Again, like with the preceding table, the data above is self-explanatory. However, what is interesting to note is that while we mentioned that there were as many as eight releases last week and again scheduled for the upcoming weekend of October 14, that number has not only been matched but also outdone by the weekends of September 2 and February 26 that saw 10 and 11 releases, respectively.
The bottom-line: the problem of plenty in the release calendar seems set to only intensify in the future; even though, when it comes to the relationship between the number of competing releases and the chances of their individual success, less is clearly more.