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Punching Below Our Weight

A frequent, and unflattering, conclusion that we tend to arrive at in the course of quite a few studies on this page is that the Indian box office doesn’t quite match up to the potential inherent in many of the statistics that are frequently bandied about – ‘the world’s most prolific film producer’, ‘the second most populous nation’ and ‘the world’s seventh largest economy’.

Part of the problem, as we know, is that we are severely under-screened for a country of our size and population. Consequently, most films fail to get a decent release and, therefore, despite a theoretical excess of riches as far as output is concerned, the films that really matter in practice are few. In 2017, for example, despite almost 250 Hindi releases, two-thirds of the domestic box office was generated by just the Top 10 films, and virtually the entire collections (98 per cent) cornered by the Top 50 films.

But our woes are not restricted only to the gnawing gap between the few haves and the many have-nots. Even the biggest of our blockbusters don’t measure up to the benchmarks set in the other major film markets of the world. Check out the table below that compares the Indian rupee equivalent of the All-Time Top 10 domestic grossers of a few key markets:

All-Time Top 10 Films - Domestic Theatrical Collections:

 

India

USA

China

UK

Australia

Japan

Rank

Title

Title

Title

Title

Title

Title

Collections

Collections

Collections

Collections

Collections

Collections

1

Baahubali: The Conclusion*

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Wolf Warrior 2

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Avatar

Spirited Away

`506 crore

`6061 crore

`5799 crore

`1117 crore

`585 crore

`1865 crore

2

Dangal

Avatar

The Mermaid

Skyfall

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Titanic

`375 crore

`4921 crore

`3464 crore

`936 crore

`476 crore

`1587 crore

3

Tiger Zinda Hai^

Titanic

The Fate of the Furious

Spectre

Star Wars: The Last Jedi^

Frozen

`331 crore

`4267 crore

`2725 crore

`863 crore

`294 crore

`1543 crore

4

PK

Jurassic World

Monster Hunt

Avatar

Titanic

Your Name

`324 crore

`4221 crore

`2491 crore

`852 crore

`292 crore

`1516 crore

5

Bajrangi Bhaijan

Marvel’s The Avengers

Furious 7

Star Wars: The Last Jedi^

Marvel’s The Avengers

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

`317 crore

`4034 crore

`2478 crore

`748 crore

`270 crore

`1230 crore

6

Sultan

Star Wars: The Last Jedi^

Never Say Die

Titanic

Jurassic World

Howl’s Moving Castle

`300 crore

`4001 crore

`2248 crore

`728 crore

`268 crore

`1187 crore

7

Padmaavat^

The Dark Knight

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Toy Story 3

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Princess Mononoke

`276 crore

`3461 crore

`2020 crore

`671 crore

`266 crore

`1169 crore

8

Dhoom: 3

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Detective Chinatown

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Bayside Shakedown 2

`261 crore

`3444 crore

`1989 crore

`663 crore

`260 crore

`1051 crore

9

Chennai Express

Beauty and the Beast

The Ex-File 3: The Return of the Exes

Beauty and the Beast

Shrek 2

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

`219 crore

`3262 crore

`1981 crore

`657 crore

`255 crore

`1048 crore

10

Kick

Finding Dory

Kung Fu Yoga

Mamma Mia

The Return Of The King

Avatar

`214 crore

`3169 crore

`1790 crore

`622 crore

`250 crore

`945 crore

 

 

*Hindi dubbed version only

^Still running in theatres

All collections as of March 2, 2017, and rounded off to the nearest crore

Conversion rates applied - 1 US Dollar = Rs 64.71. I Chinese Yuan = Rs 10.21. 1 British Pound = Rs 90.7. 1 Australian Dollar = Rs 50.73. 1 Japanese Yen = 61 Indian paise.

As comes through very clearly (and painfully) in the chart above is the extent to which even our most successful films lag behind their counterparts in other markets.

So much so, even our No. 1 film, Baahubali: The Conclusion, made less money than the No. 10 film in all other markets reviewed, barring Australia. Worse, to use a racing analogy, the other markets lead us not by a few inches or feet but have outrun us by laps i.e. multiples. The No. 1 films of both the US and China are almost 12 times bigger than ours, while the Japanese and British toppers are more than three times and twice the size of our highest-grossing film, respectively.

The only country we sort of match up to is Australia as 6 of our films outscore their similarly ranked Australian counterparts. However, that’s a facile triumph considering that the Australian population is not even 2 per cent of ours.

No doubt, the impressive collections seen in the other markets are bolstered somewhat by the higher ticket prices there, but one can safely bet that the extent of that price difference is nowhere close to the variance in revenues observed in the table.

Clearly, we have a lot of catching up to do before we can take our rightful place at the head table of global film powers. Till then, our claim to fame of leading the world in terms of number of films produced can only be characterised as a case of naam bade aur darshan chote!

 

Byline: Nitin Tej Ahuja

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