Will rapid-fire movies from top stars trigger viewer fatigue?

  • Frequent releases by top stars Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn who have appeared in multiple films over the past few months and have others lined up, may be leading to an overkill for audiences who have rejected their recent offerings like Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Maidaan and Mission Raniganj.

Lata Jha
First Published24 May 2024
Kumar has seen 10 films arrive in theatres post the pandemic, including three (Selfiee, OMG 2 and Mission Raniganj) in 2023 and one (Bade Miyan Chote Miyan) so far in 2024. (Photo: X)
Kumar has seen 10 films arrive in theatres post the pandemic, including three (Selfiee, OMG 2 and Mission Raniganj) in 2023 and one (Bade Miyan Chote Miyan) so far in 2024. (Photo: X)

A number of top actors have multiple releases lined up in quick succession, raising questions on the wisdom of the practice as the overkill may turn audiences away, especially since many of their films have bombed in the recent past.

Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn, whose movies Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Maidaan and Mission Raniganj failed at the box office, have several more coming up this year. Trade experts say while frequent releases may not matter if the movies are well-made and compelling, some actors may have spread themselves too thin and diluted brand equity.

After the pandemic, 10 movies starring Kumar have arrived in theatres, including three (Selfiee, OMG 2 and Mission Raniganj) in 2023 and one (Bade Miyan Chote Miyan) in 2024. Four more Kumar films are releasing this year - Sarfira in June, and Khel Khel Mein, Sky Force and Welcome to the Jungle between September and December.

Read This: Multiplex chains renegotiate rentals, capex terms as business dives

Viewer fatigue

Meanwhile, Devgn, who has appeared in Shaitaan and Maidaan this year, has titles like Auron Mein Kahan Dum Tha, Singham Again and Raid 2 slated for release before the year ends. Rajkummar Rao, who will have two releases in May itself—Srikanth and Mr & Mrs Mahi -- will see two more movies, Stree 2 and Vicky Vidya Ka Woh Wala Video -- arrive in 2024.

“It is important to note a lot of these actors worked through the pandemic and helped projects move forward, but there could be some viewer fatigue when releases are so frequent. Especially if you’re delivering one dud after another, it may make sense to recalibrate and come back after six months with something fresh,” a studio executive said. He said though the fault is not entirely that of actors since a lot of movies were delayed because of covid and released in quick succession, it is crucial to pace things out.

“The big impact of films flopping one after the other is not on the actors per se, who’ve often taken their remuneration in advance but on the producer or studio who incurs the losses alone. Also, sometimes, there is pressure from OTT platforms to release the film in theatres because it is scheduled to stream within a particular quarter,” the executive said on condition of anonymity.

And This: Box-office duds prompt theatres to cut ticket prices

Impatient audiences

Film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said the frequency of releases is not as important as whether the project is put together meticulously and the story comes with some merit. Even in Kumar’s case, his satirical comedy OMG 2 found draw in theatres when released last year.

“Audiences are very impatient now and can see through films. They can see if a film has been made for the heck of it, also thanks to the conversation on social media,” Johar pointed out. Further, the fact that cinemas haven’t been able to reduce prices to help some of these films gain better traction shows that the overall business is in doldrums, Johar added.

More Here: Why producers are getting cold feet about big-budget films

Quality of films

To be sure, while some names, including Dhanush and Vijay Sethupathi in the southern movie industries, have always been known for multiple releases per year, trade experts say it is the low quality of films that is hurting the business.

 “Too many releases is never a good idea but if you can mix and match well and the projects appear differentiated, there may not be fatigue per se,” independent exhibitor Vishek Chauhan said. Actor Shah Rukh Khan saw three theatrical releases in 2023—Pathaan, Jawan and Dunki while just before covid, Kumar had delivered four hits in 2019—Kesari, Mission Mangal, Housefull 4 and Good Newwz, Chauhan pointed out.

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