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Saving the best for last?

The film world is mercurial and whimsical, with ups and downs being par for the course. But the last three quarters of this year have been about success, success and more success. People who know about the business of cinema predict what the next three months will bring…

People say that some years bring luck with them and 2018 is surely one of those. From the beginning of this year we have seen the film industry release one hit after another. Several different flavours of films have worked, regardless of the star cast and their scale.

The historical opus called Padmaavat was followed by big ticket films like Pad Man, Sanju, Dhadak, Baaghi 2, Veere Di Wedding, GOLD, Satyameva Jayate, Race 3 and many others. Then there were jewels that shone so brightly that they dimmed the light of others - like Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Raid, Hichki, 102 Not Out, Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran, Raazi, Soorma and Karwaan, to name a few.

The recently released Stree, which surprised all by crossing the Rs 100 crore mark, the soulful Manmarziyaan and Sui Dhaaga – Made In India were the closers of the third quarter of 2018.

One would have thought that with such huge successes already in the bag, there wouldn’t be more left to come from the industry. But that would be wrong. The now underway final quarter of this year shows even more potential with some of the biggest releases of recent times in Aamir Khan-Amitabh Bachchan’s Thugs Of Hindostan, the fun ensemble of Total Dhamaal, South superstar Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar’s larger-than-life 2.0, Shah Rukh Khan’s much awaited Zero and finally Rohit Shetty’s action-packed commercial entertainer with Ranveer Singh and Sara Ali Khan, Simmba.

To explore the expectations of this last quarter, we spoke to filmmakers as well as prominent distributors and exhibitors, who shared their excitement over the lremaining releases of 2018.

Mukesh Bhatt, Producer

 All the films that have come, they are fresh in content and have a new narrative that will appeal to the audience, because the audience has changed. If content creators do not change with the change in audience taste, they cannot survive. Always, the content that has a new narrative will succeed, because the cinema going audience has not completely changed. You have to bring in a change in your narrative. I am looking forward to my own film Jalebi, as it has content that is different and fresh. I am not saying this because it is my baby, but because it caters to this question that you have asked me. Fortunately, this film has a very strong and a different narrative. When you see Jalebi, you will know what I mean. This is a film that you have never seen before in the industry. It’s a new narrative, a new kind of story. Apart from Jalebi, Badhaai Ho will also be an interesting concept. These kinds of films will work. The year 2018 has proved to be amazing for the industry and the reason is nothing but content. Content is always king.

Bhushan Kumar, Chairman and Managing Director, T-Series

New stories are working. People are taking chances. Fresh faces have worked. Mainstream has gone experimental, which is fantastic. We pushed those boundaries last year with Hindi Medium and Tumhari Sulu and this year with Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety and Raid. The next three months look exciting. To me, Thugs Of Hindostan looks very promising. It’s a totally new take on the Indian freedom struggle and as a fan of Mr Bachchan and Aamir Khan, I am eagerly waiting to see this film.

With these two powerhouse performers, it is guaranteed to be a spectacular show. I am also looking forward to seeing Shah Rukh Khan in Zero. Total Dhamaal will be totally worth it for the laughs it promises.

There is also Rohit Shetty’s Simmba, which will pack in dhamakedaar masala entertainment.

Where big budget films are concerned, those films that continue to push the envelope will work. From what I know, the Badhaai Ho trailer is rocking social media because it is an unusual, quirky subject.  Sahi mainon mein it’s a bold subject, hatke subject. So yes, I have great expectations from the next three months.

Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios

2018 has been the most eventful year for Bollywood in recent times with one blockbuster every month! More importantly, this year the industry witnessed successful diverse content - from action to romance, comedy to horror. And what made it special was that exciting content was backed with strong and effective marketing which was clutter breaking. This year at Fox Star Studios, we have had a very successful journey with two massive blockbuster hits – Baaghi 2 and Sanju. Baaghi 2 broke many records and emerged as the highest grosser for Tiger Shroff and Sanju became third highest All time grossing Bollywood film!

As we are entering the last quarter of the year, we, at Fox Star Studios, are gearing up for the release of one of the most loved comedy franchise - Total Dhamaal in early December. With a great ensemble cast of Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi and Jaaved Jafferi, this will be our first collaboration with the hit-makers Ashok Thakeria and Indra Kumar. Also, looking forward to Thugs Of Hindostan, Zero and Simmba and an overall gigantic year for Hindi films at the box office!

Ramesh Taurani, Producer

 The fourth quarter will be excellent this year, because all the excellent films are lined up for the last quarter. The trailers are also very exciting – AndhaDhun, Badhaai Ho, Namaste England, Thugs Of Hindostan, 2.0 and Simmba. These films are looking very promising and I think this year will end on a high note. Overall, 2018 has been very good for the industry. I am looking forward to AndhaDhun, Badhaai Ho, Thugs Of Hindostan and Simmba. This year, anything that is slightly different or has a slightly new concept is working big time with the audience. Sui Dhaaga – Made In India is also doing very well, as it’s a completely new concept. The rural stories and things that we have not seen before, they are really doing good.

Shariq Patel, CEO, Zee Studios 

 With Thugs of Hindostan, Zero and Simmba lined up for later, we will be ending the year on a big high in terms of box office collection. Interesting content across genres seems to have worked well this year, from celebrating women-bonhomie in Veere Di Wedding, an action drama based on India’s military strategy in our film Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, a biopic on a female spy in Raazi to a doomed love story in our film, Dhadak.

Nandu Ahuja, Sr VP India Theatrical, Eros International

The year 2018 has seen audiences giving a big thumbs up to movies with content. Films with good stories and great entertainment value have worked big time. We at Eros are very happy at the appreciation that our movies like Mukkabaaz and Manmarziyaan have received from critics and viewers, which proves that audiences are looking for fresh plots with good content. The industry is excited for some big-ticket movies hitting the screens this year end; we should end this year with a blockbuster. We also have an interesting mix of cinema to offer the audience in this quarter, be it the horror fantasy Tumbbad or the Marathi sequel Boyz 2, which is one of the highly anticipated regional movies. We are giving movie goers something different to watch instead of the regular fare.

Vipul Shah, Producer-Director

 I think the last quarter will continue to do even better, because in these final three months we have some massive films set for release. The other films are also looking very interesting and promising. I am hoping that this final quarter will end on a better note. I am looking forward to my own film releasing. My exam is on October 19, when Namaste England comes out. I want to see how my film performs. Then, of course, there is Thugs Of Hindostan, Total Dhamaal, Zero, Simmba, etc. There are some big films in the month of November and December. And in October I have my own film, so I am very excited and looking forward to this particular quarter. The sheer number of big films coming in these upcoming months promises that it will be a great finish to a great year. I think sometimes you have years that don’t do well - like last year - but you have to learn from them about what the audience wants or doesn’t want. They wanted better content, better films. This year what we are seeing is content, something that people are happy to go in big numbers and watch. With that there are also the so-called commercial films that have done extremely well, whether it is Baaghi 2, Paadmavat or Sanju. The audience has given a thumbs up to all kinds of genres in cinema. They are just happy this year; the disappointments have been fewer and the pleasure of going to the cinema is back. So obviously it has been a great year and these remaining months will finish it on a greater high.

Neeraj Goswamy, Head Of Distribution, Viacom18 Motion Pictures

 The trend of the last three quarters is going to continue. In the last quarter also, if every month there is a 100 crore film coming out - I won’t be surprised by that. Even if September doesn’t have one, the average will be maintained. With such massive numbers during Diwali and post that in December, the quarter of October-November-December will be worth over 500 crore. Talking about small films doing well - today it is very difficult to call a film ‘small’ or ‘big’ on face value. A big cast film might not cross 100 crore, but a big film with a relatively great storyline which might not have big stars but have good actors, could push it into the 100 crore club. The audience is very clear that if it’s a good film, it will find patronage, which is exactly how it should be. That encourages filmmakers to make all kinds of films rather than sticking to just one formula. I look forward to all films; I look forward to all Fridays. For someone who has been in the business for as long as I have, every Friday is critical and I hope all films do well. It is very difficult to make a film and put it onscreen. It is celebration time when the film comes out, because people are putting a lot of effort and energy into it. A film hitting the screen is an achievement by itself. And then, if it gets box office glory, it is the cherry on the cake. The audiences have always been there; they will not go away. No audience wants to come and spend 500 or 300 or even 50 rupees on a bad film. I guess we had great stories to tell this year, compared to last year. That is what has resulted in success for everything, whether it is box office or the audiences’ love. In our business, we make proposals sometimes, but now the proposal making has taken a back seat and good story telling has come back into trend. That is what is working and I hope that continues.

Mahendra Soni, Co-Founder and Director, SVF

 As a year, 2018 has been pretty remarkable for the industry, starting with the blockbuster Padmaavat. There have been big releases that have worked wonderfully well with audiences across genres, like action films - Baaghi 2, Race 3, social cause-related film – Pad Man, romantic comedy - Sonu Ki Titu Ki Sweety, biopic - Sanju and the latest blockbuster - Stree. For the time being, we are ecstatic and excited about our upcoming Puja releases - Villain, Ek Je Chhilo Raja and Byomkesh Gowtro (all releasing on October 12), as Durga Puja is the most challenging time of the year for any regional producer based  out of the Eastern zone. The next three months looks interesting, with some of the most talked about films releasing Zero, Simmba, Thugs of Hindostan, films that the audience is waiting eagerly for. I hope they do well at the box office and continue this golden run at the theaters.

Siddharth Anand Kumar, VP Films & TV Saregama and Yoodlee Films

 The last three months of the year have traditionally been very lucrative for the Indian box office. It’s festival time, and with two big holidays – Diwali and Christmas – the big  budget blockbusters are expectedly going to come out with all guns blazing. But for me, this year has been about smaller films, films that took us by surprise, tackling a variety of subjects that are slightly off centre, to make a point and garner both critical and box office acclaim. I am looking forward to a couple of films that are scheduled to release in the next three months and that appear to have an interesting dynamic and that interest me as a cine-goer. I am looking forward to Tumbbad, the fantasy suspense thriller by Rahi Anil Barve – it has a visual palette and a plot line that instantly attracts. Then there’s  Badhaai Ho by Amit Sharma – an unique and perhaps even uncomfortable story, but I am curious to see what the treatment is of the subject . And from our stable of Yoodlee Films – we are excited to bring you two terrific films : Hamid – a gripping drama between a CRPF Jawan and eight year old boy, set in the midst of the Kashmir strife, directed by Aijaz Khan, and Noblemen – an English thriller that tackles the thorny subject of bullying in boarding schools,  directed by Vandana Kataria.

Raj Nidimoru, Writer-Producer-Director

 There is still an exciting quarter left. I feel that this year will be remembered as the year of the underdog. Some unexpected films performed very well at the box office, which is a great thing. So we have a wider selection of movies to make in the next year. There are quite a few films that I am looking forward to. I would love to watch Zero; I am really looking forward to it. I also want to watch this small film that is coming up called Tumbbad. I have seen a few trailers, but I do not know if those films are coming out this year or next year. Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi looks really good. There are a few others that look quite exciting. The last quarter has a wide variety of films coming up. I think 2018 got lucky. Last year, filmmakers tried all kinds of cinema. Some did not work, some worked. It happens to be this year versus last year. I do not think there has been a big difference in the approach as such. It is the same set of filmmakers and the same set of films for both these years, but they got lucky this year.  

Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures and Chief of Strategy, PVR Ltd

According to me, what is working for the industry is content. A content driven, entertaining and engaging film mixed with big stars definitely brings in the audience. I am looking forward to Badhaai Ho, Thugs Of Hindostan, Total Dhamaal, Zero and Simmba. All these films are expected to do well in the last quarter of the year. Personally I have huge hopes of Badhaai Ho, followed by Thugs Of Hindostan which will definitely be the movie of the quarter. The audience this time has welcomed the focus on stories and presentation rather than the stars. Stars definitely help in topping the movie reach but by and large, it is good stories that have worked. Previously what happened was that there were around four or five plots for films and all the movies were made based on those plots. Now, there are conceptual films coming, for example, something like Badhaai Ho, a totally different concept and story. All these things are affecting the choices of the movie going audience.

Milap Zaveri, Writer-Director

 I have very high expectations because I think already this quarter has begun with a bang with Sui Dhaaga – Made In India. The film is doing such great business. Also, we have some very exciting films coming up. There is Badhaai Ho, Namaste England and Baazaar this month, which are very interesting. Baazaar has Saif Ali Khan in a different avatar and we have not seen him like this in a long time. Badhaai Ho has a wonderful concept that is new and quirky. Namaste England has the hit pair of Ishaqzaade. Then, as you go ahead, there are the biggies on the way like Thugs Of Hindostan, which is going to be pretty historic and phenomenal. I feel it will be our challenge to Baahubali: The Conclusion. Then there is 2.0, which is another humongous film; then Total Dhamaal, which is one of the biggest comedy franchises in India. Then there is Zero with Shah Rukh Khan and Aanand L Rai who is such a great director. There is also Simmba, which is one of the ultimate masala films. In this year, you had a Baaghi 2 and Satyameva Jayate, which did great business in action, drama and masala. Simmba is the next film that is going to be huge in that genre. Rohit Shetty is coming with Ranveer Singh - the actual baap of masala. This has been the biggest year that I have seen in my career, where films of different genres have done well. We had a super hit almost every month in addition to other hits and successes. It is going to be a landmark year in the last quarter also. We began the year with a bang with Padmaavat and then we had Satyameva Jayate, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Stree, Sanju, Baaghi 2 and Sui Dhaaga.

Year 2018 has been so great for the industry because content has clicked with the audience. Films that have worked were made for their target audiences. A Parmanu or a Raazi was made for a certain kind of audience. They worked for the audiences they were made for. A Satyameva Jayate or a Baaghi 2 was made clearly for the masses of India, for the lovers of commercial and entertaining cinema. It has worked with them in a big way. Sui Dhaaga is made for the family audience and it has worked beautifully with that segment. What is most interesting is that content has worked whatever the genre was and filmmakers have not tried to be disloyal to that content. I have never said that I made Satyameva Jayate for families or for the multiplexes or for the elite audience. I made that film for the masses and maintained that. It has clicked that way. Similarly, there is Parmanu or Raazi which was made for audiences who want intellectual stimulation. These films are more real, more intellectual and have that kind of sensibility. They didn’t try to put in a masala song or a masala action scene. Whichever film has been honest enough to cater to the audience targeted, that has worked this year. It’s a year of big comebacks. Big actors, filmmakers who have tasted failure in the past - they have bounced back this year very strongly because they have been honest to whatever they wanted to do. It is a great year for content, as every genre has worked well. Especially in a year when people said that digital will take over cinema, cinema has been an eye opener. This says that you can never change the experience of watching a film in a theatre and eating popcorn.

Balkrishna Shroff, Distributor

 The final quarter of this year should be very positive, because even smaller films like AndhaDhun and Badhaai Ho are enjoying a good report as the buzz around them is growing. Then you have Thugs Of Hindostan, 2.0, Total Dhamaal, Zero and finally Simmba. All these big films are going to collect a decent amount even if they are not very successful. I am very hopeful regarding this particular quarter. When there are big films, it is very difficult to say anything because of their scale. It is difficult to choose which ones we are looking forward to the most. It may also happen that after their release, other films may not be so small. They can also gain good collections. At this point, they are all looking like big films with potential. And the films that are already big are looking very good too. A lot of small and medium range films have done well this year. This is a very positive sign that a producer doesn’t have to depend on a so-called big star to get in the collections. Even a film with Alia Bhatt as the main lead like Raazi can give you 100 crore plus collections. Gone are the days when only heroes could achieve this. This is a very positive sign that there is a demand for good films irrespective of the star cast. A solo starrer of Rajkummar Rao like Stree can also give you a 120 crore business. It is amazing! In future, what will happen is that a lot of movies will be made depending on this kind of star cast and not necessarily the big heroes and heroines. Also, it will be good to see that there will be buyers and takers for these kinds of films. It is a good phase.

BH Basha, Distribtutor

 Aamir Khan’s Thugs Of Hindostan is looking very good. Then there is Rajinikanth’s 2.0, Total Dhamaal, Zero, Simmba, Namaste England, Badhaai Ho and such films. These movies that are coming in the final quarter of year are expected to bring in revenue. The biggest expectations are from Thugs Of Hindostan, 2.0, Zero and Simmba.

Collections from smaller films have been good. The reason for these movies doing well is that the narration was good and there was novelty in the storytelling. These films gave us fresh scripts and stories and that is why we saw that the business in 2018 was better than in 2017.

Bhuvanesh Mendiratta, AVP Operations and Development, Miraj Cinemas

 This year has seen amazing growth in terms of numbers as far as revenues are concerned. We have seen diverse movies this year, starting from a periodical drama and then moving through comedy, action and thrillers. We have seen everything in this particular year. The special part is that the content of these films was really, really strong. If we talk about the last quarter of this particular year, it seems amazing. October is a pre-festival month where we have movies like Badhaai Ho. It belongs to the comedy genre. This is a film that you can expect to do approximately 60-70 crore. Thugs Of Hindostan is looking very nice. Since it is releasing during Diwali, we can expect it to earn around 350-400 crore. There is no comparison when it comes to December. It will be one of the biggest months of this year. On November 29, 2.0 is releasing. In December, we have movies like Total Dhamaal, Zero and Simmba. Three movies starring superstars will be out in December. The last quarter is looking promising as far as revenues and fiscals are concerned. I am really looking forward to it. I personally feel that this last quarter will be like the icing on the cake. The entire year has seen some amazing numbers at the box office.

This year, we saw some great content-driven movies. We had smaller movies like Raazi, 102 Not Out, Mulk and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety that did very well. After that, we saw movies like Stree. It has done business of 130 crore, which is awesome. We are in an exhibition industry. When we are looking at the budget forecasting for next year, we generally do so on the basis of the movies. Stree had done almost three times more than what we projected. Films like these really helped us in achieving our desired numbers. So we see that content-driven films have done really well this year.  Thanks to content, we have settled with a very decent number at the end of the three quarters. Smaller movies made a very good impact. And apart from Bollywood movies, the regional content, especially for the nationalized chains that have a presence across the country, Tamil, Telugu, and Punjabi films have been good. A Gujarati film like Su Thayu doing a business of 50- 60 crore is completely unexpected. Hollywood content also played very well; Black Panther, Jurassic Park, Avengers: Infinity War. Thanks to all these factors, the exhibitors are happy with the first three quarters.

Rajender Singh Jyala, Chief Programming Officer, INOX Leisure Ltd

The lineup of the final quarter looks very interesting. With films like Thugs Of Hindostan, 2.0, Zero, Simmba, Total Dhamaal, Badhaai Ho, I believe the last quarter of 2018 will be the best quarter of the year. I am looking forward to Aamir Khan’s Thugs Of Hindostan, S Shankar’s 2.0 starring Rajinikanth, then Aanand L Rai’s Zero starring Shah Rukh Khan and Simmba which looks like an out and out commercial film. I expect these four films to be mega blockbusters. Then we have Total Dhamaal which should do good numbers. Also, for Badhaai Ho, the kind of buzz the promos has created, it is going to be a super hit film; the way Stree has become a super hit. This year, content has worked well for the audience. Last year the numbers were good, but  just one film had earned more than 500 crore and that was Baahubali: The Conclusion. No other film got the kind of numbers that were expected. If we talk about the current year, besides the big budget films, all the medium budget films like Raazi, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Stree and Raid, have earned more than 100 crore. Nobody expected Baaghi 2 to do 160 crore. The film 102 Not Out earned 50-60 crore, Satyameva Jayate earned almost 90-95 crore. All these films worked so well because of their content.

Sanjay Marudhar, Distributor

The last quarter is looking very good. There are some very good releases that could become blockbusters. The first three quarters have done well and the same is expected of the final quarter as well. There a couple of big films like Thugs Of Hindostan, Zero, Total Dhamaal, Simmba, 2.0. These can be good runners for the final quarter. Then there are films like AndhaDhun, Helicopter Eela, Badhaai Ho and Namaste England. Every week we have a good film releasing and this is just in the month of October. In November we have two good big releases in Thugs Of Hindostan and 2.0 and three big films in December. I am looking forward to Thugs of Hindostan and Zero, which are expected to do well.

This year has been all about content. There have big grossers like Padmaavat and Sanju. Apart from that, there have been surprise hits like Veere Di Wedding, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Parmanu and Stree. Also Raazi, Baaghi 2 did well. Sui Dhaaga, which released recently, is also doing well. All are different genres and it is good content that is working. 

Rahul Kadbet, GM Programming and Distribution, Carnival Cinemas

Box office collections in this last quarter of 2018 will be the biggest one seen till date. The lineup is exceptional with larger-than-life films like Thugs of Hindostan, 2.0, Zero, Total Dhamaal and Simmba along with potentially good films like Namaste England, Badhaai Ho, Baazaar, Kedarnath to name a few. We are expecting that the box office collections will cross `1500 Cr in this quarter. Sui Dhaaga is doing pretty well, people are liking Pataakha and now AndhaDhun also looks very promising. The festival and holiday season will add to this year’s kitty. This year again, we have seen many content oriented films do good business at the box office and they have got accolades from the critics as well. Crisp writing, better content and perfect marketing mix are few factors that have worked this year in favour of all of us.

Anil Aggarwal, Distributor

The final quarter will also prove to be a good one. 2018 is a lucky year for the industry as compared to 2017. Unfortunately, 2017 did not go well. Aamir Khan’s Thugs Of Hindostan, 2.0 starring Akshay Kumar film, Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero; these are commercial films. The final quarter thus looks very promising. 2018 is better than 2017, because this time, luckily, the content has been good enough to attract a larger audience. All the medium budget films are also working well. Stree, which was a medium budget film, is doing so well, revenue-wise. Also, upcoming films like AndhaDhun and Badhaai Ho also seem to have good content. For all these content based films you can predict if they are going to work or not. Personally, a medium budget film like Badhaai Ho is expected to work well. Then there are all the big budget movies like Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero, Aamir Khan’s Thugs Of Hindostan and Simmba releasing in the last two months of the year. They all will definitely do well. We can say that the final quarter will be very good for the industry.

Jeetu Khandelwal, Distributor

The films that are coming in the last quarter of the yea are really big ones, be it Thugs Of Hindostan, 2.0, Zero or Simmba. The other films besides these, like AndhaDhun and Badhaai Ho, are medium budget movies. A medium budget film like Stree  suddenly reached 100 crore. It was the same for Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran made over 70 crore. After five to seven films, one such film releases. Such occurences are not seen as often. If you see the last few films like Manmarziyaan, Batti Gul Meter Chalu and Sui Dhaaga - Made In India, they are not so good. It is difficult to predict what will happen with these types of films. But it is 100 per cent confirmed that Thugs Of Hindostan, 2.0 and Simmba will be blockbusters. Also, there will be a couple of Hollywood releases because of December 25.

Anil Thadani’s AA Films’ luck is good. I did not have great expectations from Stree, but it is doing very well. Raazi also crossed all expectations.

- Bhakti Mehta, Bhavi Gathani, Titas Chowdhury

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