It is almost a month since major markets opened up theatres (some of them allowing 50 per cent of the seating capacity) for the public to watch movies. It was a bittersweet experience for some of the big banners that released movies during the month.
Though theatres opened doors for public in October last year, they had to close down again after the second wave of Covid this year. As a result of this, many big banners did not take the risk of releasing movies in the past 18 months.
While the Rohit Shetty’s cop universe movie Sooryavanshi starring Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn and Ranveer Singh helped inject life into the theatrical exhibitions, some other big banner movies like Yash Raj Film’s Bunty aur Babli 2, T-Series’ Satyameva Jayate 2, Salman Khan Films’ Antim failed to impress the audience.
Interestingly, a comparison of the post-Covid Bollywood (Hindi) releases in November of 2021 with the same month of the pre-Covid previous five (2015-2019) years showed two trends. Only six Hindi movies were released in 2021 as against a maximum of 27 in 2019. However, the box office collections of November 2021 releases were almost 83 per cent of the November 2019 releases.
If the November releases of 2016 and 2017 are taken into consideration, this year’s November collections had overtaken them by 68 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively.
November 2018 was better when compared to the other years because two movies of top actors crossed ₹150 crore each that year. The movies were: Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar starrer 2.O; and Amitabh Bachhan, Aamir Khan starrer Thugs of Hindostan.
Salman Khan’s Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo (2015), and Ayushman Khurana starrer Bala (2019) crossed the ₹100 crore mark in November of those years.
However, none of the movies released in November 2016 and 2017 crossed the ₹100-crore collection figures in the box office.
The collection figures of all the above-mentioned movies (barring Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo) were below that of November 2021’s Sooryavanshi. It is to be noted that theatres in some States are operating at 50 per cent capacity due to the regulations in those States, and Sooryavanshi’s collection is considered significant in such a situation.
According to the data available with the movie portal Bollywood Hungama, the domestic box office collection of Sooryavanshi (which was released on November 5) crossed ₹190 crore as on November 30, and it was still running in theatres whereas some of the other Bollywood movies released after that exited by then.
Bollywood Hungama’s statistics showed that Mumbai territory (which operates with 50 per cent occupancy in theatres) contributed a major share to the total box office collections for Sooryavanshi. This was followed by Delhi and Uttar Pradesh territories.
Many big banners and major stars prefer a festival release for their movies to boost box office collections.
Deepavali, which is one such festival, was celebrated in November during 2015, 2018 and 2021. It was celebrated in the last week of October in 2016 and 2019 thus extending the box office collection window for the movies released for the festival during the month of November of those years.
A comparative analysis of Deepavali releases shows that Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi was almost near the collection figures of his 2019 release Houseful 4. Sooryavanshi had overtaken the 2018’s Thugs of Hidostan, and 2016’s Shivaay and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.
The November collections assume significance in the post-Covid world as only six Hindi movies were released in 2021 when compared to the releases in November of 2015-19 (from nine in 2015 to a high of 27 in 2019).
The number of screens also came down during the 18-month period. According to an EY’s report for FICCI, which was released in March 2021, more than 1,000 single screens downed the curtains in 2020. It said that absence of revenues for seven months (up to unlock 5) and the dearth of content and audience visits to the theatres contributed to this reduction.
According to ‘Sizing the Cinema: An Ormax Media Report on India’s Theatrical Audience Reach’, around 14.57 crore people watched movies in theatres in 2019. Of them, 7.42 crore people watched Hindi movies that year.
With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus creating a scare across the globe, it is to be seen how the theatrical exhibitions will fare in the months to come with some top actors getting ready for the release of their movies.
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