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Business News/ Industry / Media/  Bollywood braces for a weak show on Diwali
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Bollywood braces for a weak show on Diwali

South films to help theatre owners make up for Bollywood’s modest gains

According to trade website Box Office India, advance bookings for Ram Setu and Thank God were muted, with ticket sales at 4,087 and 2,602, respectively. Mint Premium
According to trade website Box Office India, advance bookings for Ram Setu and Thank God were muted, with ticket sales at 4,087 and 2,602, respectively. Mint

NEW DELHI : Hindi films may see muted response during the Diwali week, despite movie theatres operating at full capacity for the first time in nearly three years during the festivals. Bollywood offerings, such as Akshay Kumar’s Ram Setu and Sidharth Malhotra-starrer Thank God, scheduled for release on Tuesday, are not being touted as family entertainers that can draw crowds in huge numbers across demographics.

Southern cinema, however, is likely to help theatre owners tide over the period. Tamil movies, Prince starring Sivakarthikeyan, and Karthi’s Sardar, which hit theatres last Friday, and Mohanlal’s Malayalam film Monster, are expected to set the cash registers ringing at the box office. Hollywood film Black Adam, which was also released this weekend, made 11 crore at last count.“It does not seem like an exciting Diwali for us. We’re usually looking at big family entertainers with universal appeal and top stars for the festival," Bihar-based independent exhibitor Vishek Chauhan said.

Though Kumar’s action film Sooryavanshi had released last Diwali to bumper collections, Ram Setu does not have the elements to make it appealing across audiences considering its mythological thriller feel, Chauhan said. Thank God, starring Malhotra and Ajay Devgn, also feels targeted at the urban metro viewer and is unlikely to cut ice with small-town movie-goers, he added.

Chauhan hopes the Marathi film Har Har Mahadev, centred around the creation of the Maratha empire 350 years ago, along with its dubbed Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Kannada versions, may draw in crowds.

According to trade website Box Office India, advance bookings for Ram Setu and Thank God were muted, with ticket sales at 4,087 and 2,602, respectively, across PVR, Inox and Cinepolis for the first day, translating into 10.5 lakh and 6.5 lakh in box office collections—far below the first-day earnings of Sooryavanshi ( 26.11 crore) in 2021. However, after the Diwali celebrations, people may come out in big numbers, Box Office India said.

Furthermore, the Hindi films may not find takers in south India, where audiences will throng to watch Sivakarthikeyan and Karthi, both commercially successful stars in Tamil Nadu, said independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai. Mani Ratnam’s historical drama Ponniyin Selvan -1, too, is going strong at the box office and competing for screens, Pillai added.

Karan Taurani, senior vice-president at Elara Capital, said Ram Setu is likely to open higher at 10-12 crore, while Thank God could clock in 7-8 crore on the first day. In lifetime collections, they may earn 75-80 crore and 55-60 crore, respectively. “The numbers are below par, given that Diwali was always reasonably strong for exhibitors, and films released during this period earned 190-200 crore," Taurani said.

In 2021, too, Sooryavanshi had reported lifetime collections of 195 crore, he said. “Box office numbers for Hindi films are 25-30% lower this time, as none are franchise-based like previous Diwali offerings such as Golmaal, Housefull and Sooryavanshi. Besides the preferences in terms of content for Hindi circuit audience have changed post-covid," he added.

In terms of regional languages, there is no large Telugu film slated to release this Diwali. However, Kannada film Kantara that has set the cash registers ringing since its late September release and already collected Rs. 130-140 crore may breach the Rs. 200 crore mark, Taurani added.

The cumulative gross box office for the year 2022, till August, stands at Rs. 7,105 crore, according to Gautam Jain, partner at media consulting firm Ormax. The record for the best-ever box office year is held by 2019, at Rs. 10,948 crore. The remaining four months (September to December) must gross at least Rs. 3,844 crore to set a new record, Jain added.

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Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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Published: 23 Oct 2022, 10:42 PM IST
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