Exhibitors pin hopes on big southern films to bring cheer to box office

Theatre owners across the country have pinned all hopes on big southern movies such as Allu Arjun’s Pushpa 2: The Rule, Prabhas and Deepika Padukone-starrer Kalki 2898 AD, Kamal Haasan’s Indian 2, Jr NTR’s Devara and Ram Charan’s Game Changer.

Lata Jha
First Published13 May 2024
Building on the legacy of all-time hits such as Baahubali, RRR, KGF and Pushpa, the new films, though originally made in southern languages, are expected to draw mass-market audiences in the Hindi speaking belt in significant numbers.
Building on the legacy of all-time hits such as Baahubali, RRR, KGF and Pushpa, the new films, though originally made in southern languages, are expected to draw mass-market audiences in the Hindi speaking belt in significant numbers.

Several multi-language, big-banner, big-star-cast movies from the South are lining up for release in the coming months. This has raised hopes of theatre owners across the country for some succour from a dry spell in the box office, especially with few Hindi language titles releasing in cinemas since the Eid weekend in April.

Prominent upcoming titles include Allu Arjun’s Pushpa 2: The Rule; Prabhas and Deepika Padukone-starrer Kalki 2898 AD; Kamal Haasan’s Indian 2; Jr NTR’s Devara; and Ram Charan’s Game Changer. Together, the films could generate at least 1,500 crore in box office revenue, experts said.

Last hope

Building on the legacy of all-time hits such as Baahubali, RRR, KGF and Pushpa, the new films, although originally made in southern languages, are expected to draw mass-market audiences in the Hindi-speaking belt through a combination of action, drama, emotion, and dubbed Hindi versions.

Also Read: Multiplexes’ loss is southern films’ gain

A significant focus for multiplex chains like PVR Inox is south India, accounting for 40-45% of new openings, identified as a key growth area. “Anticipation surrounding these films is quite high due to several reasons,” Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, executive director, PVR Inox Ltd., said.

“Firstly, they feature popular and bankable stars from the southern film industry like Allu Arjun, Prabhas, Kamal Haasan, Junior NTR and Ram Charan, who enjoy a massive fan following across the country,” added Bijli. “Secondly, the trailers and promotional material have generated significant buzz by showcasing intriguing storylines, high-octane action sequences, and impressive visuals.”

Independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said these big southern films are the last hope for the theatrical industry with Hindi movies having been reduced to a trickle in the past few months. “Audiences are willing to come to theatres but there are no releases at all. In case of the south films, the curiosity factor is working big time,” Pillai said.

Domestic box office revenue in the January to March quarter was 20-25% lower than the same period last year, trade experts said. This year’s Eid weekend itself saw two underperformers—Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and Maidaan—no big Hindi films have arrived in theatres since. Last year, too, Eid was lukewarm, but the January-March quarter was bolstered by the 500-crore-plus earnings of Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan that had released on Republic Day.

The new revenue landscape

While 2023 did not see any southern language films breaking out in the Hindi-speaking belt either, the tide is expected to turn with the new films.

That said, with budgets exceeding 300-400 crore, the films will rely substantially on the box office to recover investments, though OTT and satellite sales are also expected to help. However, other than Pushpa, none of the films belong to established franchises and have not been backed by names such as S.S. Rajamouli, who are now well known in the north.

Also Read: Is pan-India appeal for southern films waning?

Big southern movies usually tend to arrive in theatres during the Pongal and Sankranti period in January, while February and March often witness fewer major releases. The recent lull in pan-India southern film releases could be attributed to various factors such as production delays, and the Lok Sabha elections in April and May, trade experts say.

However, many industry experts are hopeful the films will be able to capitalize on the proven formula that has made previous movies in the same genre successful.

“One key factor contributing to anticipation is the star power associated with these films. Moreover, these films are backed by substantial budgets, allowing for the creation of grand sets, visual effects and larger-than-life action sequences," said Devang Sampat, managing director, Cinepolis India.

"Additionally, intense marketing campaigns play a significant role in building anticipation. Trailers, teasers, posters, and promotional events generate buzz and hype around the film, piquing the interest of both existing fans and potential new audiences,” added Sampat.

Also read: Manjummel Boys sets a new trend for southern films: mega success at home

Promotional activities may include aggressive advertising campaigns across media platforms such as television, digital and print, along with strategic tie-ups with popular brands to reach a wider audience.

Additionally, special promotional events, press conferences, and fan interactions featuring the lead actors could be organized to generate excitement and curiosity among the northern audience.

 

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