Is it just us or is time really racing by?! We had barely finished with post-mortems of 2016 and here we are, well into the second quarter of the year.
That being so, now is as good a time as any to take stock of how 2017 is shaping up on the evidence of how we fared in Q1. And while doing so, let us probe a little deeper to see if the performance of the last three months offers any clues to whether the extended stagnation we have witnessed for more than three years now may be on the wane.
Check out the table below that lists the total domestic box-office collections in the first quarter of each year for the last few years.
The way to read this table is: 41 films released in the first quarter of 2010. Collectively, these films amassed Rs.320 crore net at the domestic box office, which was a substantial 52 per cent rise over the previous year’s performance in the corresponding period. However, given the far greater number of releases, the per film average of Rs.7.6 crore represented a 21 per cent fall from what films made, on average, during Q1, 2009. In terms of the overall picture that eventually emerged, the first three months of 2010 contributed 21 per cent of the total collections for the entire calendar year.
Moving on to the immediate quarter under review, let us start with the good news.
This is, by some margin, the most remunerative Q 1 on record, from a cumulative collections standpoint. To a large extent, that record topline can be attributed to the fact that, for the first time ever, we saw as many as 3 films go past the Rs.100-crore mark at the domestic box office during the first three months of the year– Raees, Jolly LLB 2 and Badrinath Ki Dulhania. Besides the three centurions, decent numbers from films like Kaabil, Commando 2, Phillauri and Naam Shabana also helped bolster the tally.
A bit of a mixed bag is on offer when we analyse the average collections per film. On the one hand, the average figure of Rs.11.56 crore registered in Q1, 2017 is lower than the levels reached during the corresponding periods in 2012 and 2013. However, the more positive news is that it is the highest we have seen in the last four years and the third-highest ever.
The macro picture that seems to emerge from this data can be summarised as: the year 2013 marked the peaking of the previous business cycle for the film trade. That was the year which recorded the highest collections ever for any calendar year, as also the highest average takings per film in the first quarter. The downslide began in 2014 when virtually every parameter entered negative territory and that downward trend accelerated in 2015 and pretty much hit rock bottom. 2016 was the year where a gradual recovery kicked in and on the evidence of the Q1 data above, 2017 should hopefully see that positive uptrend gain further momentum.
In fact, considering that less than 20 per cent of the typical year’s annual collections accrue from the first quarter, the odds are very favourable that this could well be the first year ever that we see domestic collections for Hindi films cross the Rs.3,000-crore mark. And if that were to happen, that could inject some much-needed optimism (not to mention investments) into a trade that has been moribund for some time now.
But, as we all know, there is many a slip between the cup and the lip in our line of work. So let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that the films scheduled for release during the rest of the year do indeed build on the decent platform provided by Q1 before we uncork the champagne.