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Worst Among Unequals

In the run-up to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum that was held last week in Davos, a study highlighting growing inequalities of wealth across the world was released by Oxfam, a global confederation of NGOs and charitable organisations that seek to alleviate poverty.

As per the Oxfam report, the richest 1 per cent individuals on the planet hold half of the world’s wealth. While that may seem hugely inequitable, the Indian scenario is even poorer, pun intended! As much as 58 per cent of the nation’s wealth is cornered by the wealthiest 1 per cent. An even more damning statistic as revealed by the report: just 58 Indians collectively have as much wealth as that of the bottom 70 per cent population of the country.

We, the film trade, are obviously no strangers to the concept of income disparities, with the bulk of our films failing to earn in a lifetime what the big blockbusters rack up in just a few shows on opening day itself. But exactly how wide is that gap between the haves and the have-nots and is it expanding or contracting? To answer these questions, we have analysed the collections data of the last few years, as below:

                                                         Gap Analysis, Hindi Films: 2009-2016

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Don’t get intimidated by the sheer volume of figures in the table above, it’s actually a pretty simple table to read! For instance: While 210 releases cumulatively collected `2,775 crore at the domestic box office in 2015, almost 35 per cent of that total was contributed by just the Top 5 films of that year, all of which, on average, collected `194 crore each.

When we expand that selection, we see that more than half and three-fourths of 2015’s collections accrued from the Top 10 and Top 20 films, respectively. Ergo, the 190 other films that also hit the screens that year collected less than 25 per cent of the annual collections, at a measly average of `3.61 crore per film despite comprising over 90 per cent of the year’s output by volume.

Once you get a hang of the table, a host of interesting insights becomes visible. For one, there is a remarkable consistency in terms of the per-cent contribution of each grouping across the years, with numbers not straying too far from the mean of 34 per cent, 52 per cent, 75 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively, for the Top 5, Top 10, Top 20 and Balance Films categories.  

What we also see is a sustained and quite impressive growth in the collections of the chart toppers through the years, with collections more than doubling in each of the toppers’ categories during the period under review. So much so that the average collection of a Top 20 film in 2016 (`105.5 crore) was more than that of a film in the Top 5 in 2009 (`90.8 crore).

However, the problem lies in the mass of films beyond the ones that rule the charts. While collections have grown in absolute terms even for this category, the quantum of releases has grown even more. Consequently, a non-Top 20 film made more in 2009 (`3.47 crore) than it did in 2016 (`3.30 crore).

Long story cut short: while our films are often accused of being fantastical and unreflective of ground reality, at least in one aspect they do mirror the state of the world as presented in the Oxfam report – the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer!

Nitin Tej Ahuja
Collection Chart
As on March 18th, 2017
FilmsWeekWeeklyTotal
Badrinath Ki Dulhania1
72.28Cr
72.28Cr
Desi Black Picture
1
24K
24K
Purab Ki Awaz1
3K
3K
Kong: Skull Island
1
17.10Cr
17.10Cr
Commando 2*21.65Cr24.02Cr
Luv Shv Pyar Vyar243K3.32L
More

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