Once considered the key to big box office success, major Indian festivals and the extended weekends they bring are no longer the only way to rake in huge movie collections. As Marvel’s superhero flick Avengers: Endgame joins the ₹300 crore club in India, it adds to the long list of films that have worked with regular opening weekends.
Along with the Hindi version of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (Rs. 510.36 crore), the highest grossing film in India history, superhits like Uri: The Surgical Strike (Rs. 244 crore), Sanju (Rs. 334.57 crore),Total Dhamaal (Rs. 150.03 crore) and Badla (Rs. 82.71 crore) have all been non-festive releases and major successes of late.
“Holidays, festivals, even a minor holiday that could lead to an extended weekend is given priority, while deciding on the release date," trade analyst Taran Adarsh had tweeted. “Festivals or holidays don’t necessarily guarantee success. Deliver qualitative content and non-holidays will turn into festivals for investors."
To be sure, it’s not like Bollywood is giving up its penchant for festive releases anytime soon. While Salman Khan’s Bharat is slated for Eid this year, ensemble comedy Housefull 4 and Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu-starrer Saand Ki Aankh is scheduled for Diwali. Akshay Kumar’s Mission Mangal, Baahubali star Prabhas’ bilingual action drama Saaho and John Abraham-starrer Batla House will all arrive on Independence Day. Festive dates have been reserved as far as Christmas 2020 which is when Aamir Khan’s next film, Laal Singh Chaddha, a remake of Hollywood classic Forrest Gump, will release.
Trade analysts have often emphasized on the 40-50% extra earnings that festive extended opening weekends assure filmmakers of. But given the string of ordinary weekend successes, there are more lessons to learn.
“Two years ago, Baahubali 2 (dubbed Hindi version) crossed ₹500 crore in net box office collections in India. And now Avengers: Endgame is decimating previous records and setting new benchmarks. The audience is thirsting for well-made entertainers, but we rely more on packaging and marketing to do the trick. No wonder, our films misfire too often," Adarsh wrote in an article last week.