New Delhi: In a month ridden with anxiety over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to demonetise high-value currency notes, the film business finally saw some respite towards the very end of the month with director Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi, starring Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan.
“Dear Zindagi will be remembered as an ambitious, new-age, bold unique film that helped deal with the demonetisation impact,” said Kamal Gianchandani, chief executive officer, PVR Pictures, about the romantic drama that earned Rs44.44 crore within six days of its release.
Gianchandani added that the overall impact of cash crunch turned out far less than was projected, especially for a city-centric chain like theirs that relies much on digital wallets and plastic payments. PVR also confirmed an increase in online penetration for booking tickets and credit card usage across its theatres with online sales having risen from 53.5% to 61% in a week.
“The top ten cities, which include the metros and the mini-metros are already digitally savvy and they continue to book their tickets online, unfazed by the demonetisation of currency. Their purchases are dependent on the content,” said Marzdi Kalianiwala, vice-president, marketing and business intelligence at the online ticketing firm BookMyShow. “However, outside of these cities, the next 30-40 cities have shown significant growth in online bookings. These cities are mostly in south India and in regions such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.”
Strong positive word-of-mouth may have worked in case of Dear Zindagi, but the same cannot be said for other Bollywood releases of the month. The demonetisation drive was coupled with trade expectations for a fall in business prospects soon after Diwali with only smaller offerings trickling in. While sequels like T-Series’ romantic drama Tum Bin II directed by Anubhav Sinha and Rock On!! 2, starring Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal and Shraddha Kapoor, managed Rs4.25 crore and Rs10. 01 crore, respectively. Yet another franchise film, Force 2, starring John Abraham and Sonakshi Sinha, did slightly better, notching up Rs41.88 crore in box office collections.
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Things looked up slightly for the Hollywood slate. Fantasy film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a spin-off on the Harry Potter series, made Rs11.36 crore, while Marvel’s superhero film Doctor Strange netted Rs21.98 crore even in the wake of demonetisation, building on its young, multiplex-going target audience. The only regional film to make a mark this month was Telugu horror comedy Ekkadiki Pothavu Chinnavada, starring Nikhil, Nandita Swetha and Hebah Patel.
As business further normalizes with Dear Zindagi remaining strong, trade experts have high hopes from the coming month. While Aamir Khan’s wrestling film Dangal is expected to be the grand note to end the year, Sujoy Ghosh’s second instalment to the successful thriller franchise Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh is also touted to be tracking very well as is Aditya Chopra’s Befikre that rides on the current box office appeal of lead actor Ranveer Singh.
“It’s going to be a busy December month and we’re looking at solid numbers,” Gianchandani said.
All figures in this story have been sourced from movie website Bollywood Hungama.