Shah Rukh Khan has not been able to better his opening day record since Happy New Year. Hrithik’s opening day collections have tanked down with each film. Akshay’s films have stagnated around 12-13 crore in the opening charts. Very few non-star Hindi films open above 8 crore mark.
Fukrey Returns exceeded expectations and search for the last precedent led me way back to Tanu Weds Manu Returns and they are not fitting examples as both have them had franchise recall.
Post Baahubali 2 started a dry patch during which all the movies just did not open well, let alone a decent lifetime gross. While, Jagga Jasoos, Munna Michael and Mubarakan could not live up to their buzz, Salman starrer Eid release Tubelight debuted at 21 crores. and SRK’s Jab Harry Met Sejal barely saved face at 15.25 crore speaks volumes of the fact that the paying audience has decided to give each such movie a miss which did not interest them based on the material issued by the makers especially the trailer.
Even though a few big movies may have brought the occasional cheer the behaviour dynamics persist well into 2018.
The abysmally low turnout of the audience on the first day is a result of a combination of factors. Firstly, the value of cinema ticket has reduced for the paying public. A gist of the story along with nearly half an hour of the film is revealed to the public through those lengthy song promos, behind the scenes videos (of even average content) and dialogue promos even before the movie releases.
The surprise value that any scene of a film holds when it plays out on the big screen is already lost. Secondly, the price of a ticket is steadily going up even if its value is crashing down. Thirdly, the days when audio cassette/CDs used to catalyze audience’s curiosity for the film are long gone.
The music space has been overloaded with rehashed and rap variants of old popular songs which have not only invited flak for ruining nostalgic charm but also dubiously camouflaged freshening, storytelling characteristic of music. Now this trend has coincided with the foray of leading music labels such as T-Series into movie production business. For their production unit to succeed they had to bring value to the table as producers and therefore they turned to mine into their vast library of old popular songs/ music.
The 2+ minutes of video promos of these songs which are speedily streamed using fast and cheap 4G internet connections (introduced by the likes of Jio) did add a stream of revenue for the music record companies but took away the intrigue and novelty factor of a song picturization from public because they see it for the first time on their 5” handheld devices rather than 35 mm screens.
Fourthly, the cost-heavy marketing campaigns of films comprised of standard city tours, press conferences and ‘on your face’ fake gossip columns of actors kill the movie instead of creating awareness and interest with its target audience. The fifth point being, industry has only a handful of actors whose presence in the movie can give it a respectable initial irrespective of content. All such actors have wound down their commitment to one film or sometimes stretch themselves to two films a year. Bollywood needs more stars today and new talents will take time to emerge. The ones who have made a mark but have been eschewed by the box office of late need to step up. A continuous play of these factors has resulted in a loss of trust of the audience in Hindi movies.
This intensified into cynicism which reflected in their cold decision to save their hard earned money only for the really well-made and highly recommended movies. Lastly, digital streaming resources such as Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Youtube TV, Spuul, Voot, every telecom service provider’s private entertainment library, etc. have overcrowded bid for audience’s limited bandwidth for entertainment in daily lives.
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