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The Glass Is Quarter Full

Q1 of 2018 clocked some spectacular numbers. How can we build on this success?

Most of us have written off 2017 as a year of losses and disappointments as several films, especially some from big banners, fared miserably at the box office. Not only did big stars disappoint, the musical chairs of release dates that some movies faced towards the end of last year left the trade with a lingering sense of uncertainty.

But, hope was right around the corner, with the first quarter of 2018 clocking a mind-boggling `850 crore at the box office. What’s more, these successes belonged to a diverse range of genres, which points to a healthy palate of audience tastes.

In fact, the first quarter of 2018 has been more beneficial for the Hindi film industry than it has been during the same period in the last decade. January started great, with Padmaavat entering the elite high-fliers’ club with a whopping Rs 283 crore in lifetime collections. February followed with some more fabulous movies like Pad Man and the blockbuster hit Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. The final month of the first quarter, March, saw many films like Hate Story IV and Pari doing decent business and Hichki doing superb business. Additionally, two more films, Raid and Baaghi 2, proved to be knockout superhits. 

The interesting thing is, some were content-driven while others were unabashed commercial entertainers. All these movies have hit the right chord with the audience, which several films missed last year.

Since the outstanding performance of the first quarter has lifted the spirits of the trade, we asked producers and directors for their reaction to this phenomenal start to 2018.

Sajid Nadiadwala, Producer-Director

After Judwaa 2 last year, it has been a very special first quarter for us with Baaghi 2. The numbers have been unprecedented and it only proves that every small part of the country makes a big difference. The universality of the response is the true success of a film. If the focus is set on providing good content to the audience, the industry will see results.

Bhushan Kumar, Producer

It has been many years since the first quarter of the year has been so good, financially. We are happy that our hard work on SKTKS and Raid has transformed into such successes. Our endeavour has always been to produce content-driven films that the audience can relate to.

Shibasish Sarkar, COO, Reliance Entertainment

Good stories get the audience into cinema halls, and in our industry there is no good or bad period. So, if we keep churning out good stories, there will always be an audience for them.

Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios

2018 has begun on a fantastic note for the industry and audiences were exposed to varied genres of entertainment from a period classic like Padmaavat to Akshay Kumar’s social drama Pad Man to Ajay Devgn’s Raid to Sajid Nadiadwala & Fox Star Studios‘s action entertainer Baaghi 2, which created an opening day record and raced to the coveted 100cr mark within 6 days of its release.
Just when naysayers were claiming that audiences only want to come to theatres for big spectacle films, the power of good stories with a point of difference has been reinforced ! 

Over 750cr net business has been garnered at the box office which is tremendous first quarter business for the industry. Post the success of Baaghi 2, we at Fox Star Studios, are looking forward to our second quarter releases - the hugely anticipated Raju Hirani directed Dutt Biopic and the equally awaited Deadpool 2.

Jayantilal Gada, Producer

Last year saw some changes on the economic front, like the introduction of GST and the fallout of demonetisation. This upset the apple cart for a few months but things have since settled as people learnt to manage these financial issues. This has also positively impacted the box office.

It has been proved time and again that people will come to watch good cinema. A big star can bring in big numbers but sustainability depends on quality. And the movies that released in January, February and March this year boasted good content. It is sheer luck that these movies released in the first quarter of the year. It is also a sign that people are still interested in watching our movies.

There is no dearth of movie-goers; all we need to do is continue to make quality films. The box office numbers we are seeing can be maintained as long as we produce quality cinema.

Anees Bazmee, Producer-Director

I think it’s great that we have earned so much collectively. Films are running in cinemas for six to eight weeks, which is a very good sign for all of us. And the best part is that all kinds of films have worked. All the movies that have become hits with the audience in these past months are very different from each other. This proves that it was the content in these films that found the right audience. Different subjects are working for the audience right now.

When things were not going well last year, the trade needed someone to blame and hence they said that people were not coming to cinemas, thanks to Netflix and Amazon. But, those technological developments are great and will always be there. They have their space. Movies have always had a special place in our hearts and will stay that way. This year has already started proving that. It is a great start to the year. 

Madhur Bhandarkar, Producer-Director

The line-up of movies for 2018 is good. Small films, big films, commercial films… all kinds of films are doing well and this is good for exhibitors and distributors. We are only one quarter into 2018 and yet the numbers are so good. I am sure the sentiment will remain positive in the coming months.

I have worked in this industry for a long time and ups and downs are expected. They come with the territory. Since this has been a great start, and we have nine months to go in 2018, the trend will continue. The audience is definitely changing. People are increasingly going to cinemas and there is a mixed bag of films catering to the youth, families and the masses. I hope the coming months are as stable and fruitful as these three months have been.

Ramesh Taurani, Producer

It is excellent that we are finally making films that are liked by the audience, that is, the classes and masses alike. I hope and wish the trend continues as lots of big films are lined up for release in 2018, including our film Race 3.

Remo D’Souza, Director

It is amazing the way the first quarter of 2018 has turned out. It is good for the industry and I am really happy for all the films that worked. If the beginning of the year is like this, then the rest of the year will be great. You can’t predict the audience. I am very excited about Race 3 and I hope things look up even more. I am very confident about the film and Salman Khan.

Siddharth P Malhotra, Director

Last year was disastrous, which is why this quarter of 2018 is even more encouraging. It shows that the audience has the appetite for all kinds of films. It also shows that the films were of diverse content and genre. I think people are hungry to watch films and if the film promises to deliver what it shows in its promo or trailer, then people will embrace it in the world and space it belongs to. I think the honesty of what you are promising and delivering is what is getting these numbers.

People who watched the trailer of Hichki knew they were coming for a certain kind of film and they got that kind of film. People who were watching Baaghi 2 knew that they had opted for full-on action and that’s what they got. With Raid, you knew that it was Ajay Devgn and there would be good cinema with hardcore twists and turns. With Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, the audience knew they would have fun because Luv Ranjan and his gang have their own brand of cinema. I think if you promise the audience something and deliver exactly that which is in the promo, it will result in what we are seeing today. Filmmakers want to tell different kinds of stories and producers are encouraging them now. However, without numbers, nothing works in our industry; the proof is in the pudding.

The big films of 2018, like Thugs of Hindostan and the Sanjay Dutt biopic are yet to release, and I am waiting with bated breath. These films are going to be phenomenal. Look at the makers… Viktor, Raju Hirani. Sui Dhaaga – Made In India is going to be mind-blowing. Again, we have diverse genres of films which are going to be fun to watch. This year has just begun and the second quarter is going to be better.

Tanuj Garg, Managing Partner, Ellipsis Entertainment

The reason for the success of Q1 is a no-brainer – content! There is always a market for compelling and entertaining content. The diverse slate of films that released in the first quarter is reflective of these attributes. There is a Hichki on one hand and a Baaghi 2 on the other; both successes in their own right.

Raj Kumar Gupta, Writer-Director

I am excited and elated. Last year, there was so much talk of people not coming to theatres, thanks to digital. It was depressing and not a good time for the industry, in general. But, people have started coming to cinemas and the record box office numbers prove that.

Movie-goers are lapping up the diverse content that is on offer, from Padmaavat, to Pad Man, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Raid and Baaghi 2. I am very, very happy for the business the industry has done as it helps the industry. I hope this continues and we have an extraordinary year!

Shree Narayan Singh, Director

It is always gratifying to know that a film has done well because it benefits the industry as a whole, not only financially but also in many intangible ways. When films do well, back to back, as seen in the first quarter of this year, it motivates the industry to step up its game. I feel the rest of 2018 is going to deliver that which the first quarter has promised. There are a lot of good projects slated for release and I’m sure a lot of them will keep this promise.

Luv Ranjan, Producer-Director

It’s a great beginning to the year as every hit film enables two more films while every film that loses money shuts down two films. Till now, this year has seen an average two hit films every month, which is great as it not only shores up the morale of filmmakers but also encourages the audience to spend money at cinemas.

Omung Kumar, Director

Last year saw a huge dip in box office successes. While a filmmaker makes films out of passion, the commercial success of their work is a very important consideration as well. For any filmmaker, a theatrical release is a vindication of their work and many were worried with the low turnout at cinema halls. The super showing of films at the box office in 2018 gives all of us reason to cheer. It is crucial for films to do well at the box office in order for more and more films to be made. Ultimately, every filmmaker needs producers who are secure and optimistic. I am also very happy that we are experimenting with our content.

Milap Zaveri, Writer-Director

It has been an absolutely fabulous and historic first quarter. We have had three big blockbusters, with Padmaavat, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety and now Baaghi 2 along with hits like Pad Man, Hichki, Raid and even Hate Story IV, which did very well at the box office.

It has been a terrific start to the year and all kinds of films have worked in theatres. There is a sweet film like Hichki along with a masala, blockbuster like Baaghi 2. Then, there is Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, which is the surprise package of the year, a wonderfully funny and youthful film. Padmaavat is an epic, historical film, while Raid is a true Ajay Devgn entertainer and a powerful drama. Hate Story IV is a massy thriller. It is wonderful that all these films have done so well and the year looks even better ahead.

There are so many big films releasing this year. It is one of those rare years where we will see a film by all the three Khans. Then, we have Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh also coming out with their films. I am very excited about this year’s line-up.

Last year was disappointing but not so much. We had films like Baahubali: The Conclusion, which earned `500 crore. There was talk about how people were not going to theatres any more but that is rubbish. If that was the case, then how did the entire country watch Baahubali or Judwaa 2 or Golmaal Again!!!? They have gone in blockbuster numbers.

Digital will always open new avenues but going to the theatre, watching a film on the big screen, munching on popcorn, watching a film with a hundred strangers around you… all this is part of the cinematic experience and it will never go out of vogue.

Debashish Dey, Distributor

2018 started very nicely with amazing content like Padmaavat, Pad Man, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Hichki and Raid. Each of these films has successfully earned their return on investment. In West Bengal, all the films have done really good business and if you compare that with last year, it’s way better.

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