Now that the fourth quarter of the year is well under way, it is time to take stock of how the Hindi film trade fared in Q3, 2017.
No doubt, all of us already know that the last three months haven’t exactly been the best we’ve ever had, what with a spate of very highly anticipated (and expensive) films crashing quite spectacularly. But how bad has the last quarter really been in quantitative terms?
Check out the table below that compares the collections clocked in the third quarter of each of the last few years:
Q3 (July, August, September) Comparison: 2009-17
|Year||Release Count, Q3||Total Collections, Q3||Change over Previous Q3, Per Cent||Average Collections per Film, Q3||Change over Previous Q3, Per Cent|
|2009||30||Rs 328 crore||NA||Rs 10.93 crore||NA|
|2010||28||Rs 409 crore||+25||Rs 14.61 crore||+34|
|2011||37||Rs 660 crore||+61||Rs 17.84 crore||+22|
|2012||38||Rs 881 crore||+34||Rs 23.18 crore||+30|
|2013||48||Rs 827 crore||-7||Rs 17.23 crore||-25|
|2014||39||Rs 753 crore||-10||Rs 19.31 crore||+12|
|2015||53||Rs 886 crore||+18||Rs 16.72 crore||-13|
|2016||60||Rs 947 crore||+7||Rs 15.78 crore||-6|
|2017||64||Rs 762 crore||-20||Rs 11.91crore||-25|
Domestic collections, net of taxes
The way to read this table is: Rs 947 crore was collected at the domestic box office during the third quarter of 2016. This represented a 7 per cent gain over the corresponding period’s performance in the preceding year i.e. Q3, 2015. With 60 Hindi films releasing during this period, average collections per film were at around Rs 15.8 crore, down 6 per cent from the previous year.
Now let’s get to the heart of the matter: the numbers recorded in Q3, 2017.
As clearly borne out by the table above, the quarter that just ended was disastrous on pretty much every count. Whether in absolute terms — for both cumulative and per film collections — or relative to last year’s numbers; virtually every data point is the worst ever recorded in the last decade.
There are many comparisons in the data compilation that underline just how sorry the current state of affairs is, but perhaps the most telling contrast is this: Cumulative collections in Q3, 2017 were 15 per cent lower than in Q3, 2012, despite a 70 per cent increase in the quantum of releases. Worse, the average takings per film have shrunk by almost half during these five years. Now, if that doesn’t signal an industry in crisis, one shudders to think what does.
While the odds are stacked against the chances of success in the best of times, for a film to have done well during the horror quarter we have just witnessed would seem almost miraculous. Yet, though they may have been few and far between, we did have some bright sparks in an otherwise pitch dark Q3.
Two films that did exceptionally well were Toilet – Ek Prem Katha and Judwaa 2, both of which went past the Rs 100 crore mark at the domestic box office, thereby providing the proverbial straw for a drowning industry to clutch on to. Also noteworthy was the performance of four ‘small’ films – Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Lipstick Under My Burkha and Newton – that punched way above their weight and managed to attract the paying public at a time when films with far more star power and marketing muscle were unable to do so.
Meagre though this list of successes may be, it shows us just how unpredictable and scattered the audience’s preferences have become. From a superstar-led comment on a contemporary issue to a small town rom-com; from an exploration of the secret lives of women to the complications that arise from the secret problems of men; from a quasi-political journey through Naxal territory to a back-to-the-90s, full-on masala romp through London – there really is no discernible pattern to what the box office is trying to tell us. We really have no choice but to decipher that cryptic message.
Finally, while our filmmakers should definitely own up to failing to meet the audience’s expectations, resulting in such a pathetic report card, perhaps it may have not been all our fault alone. Could it be just a coincidence that this terrible quarter began on the very day that GST came into force?