When films release in cinemas, securing its collection is easy. In most cases, the producers themselves give out figures. And it is cross checked by trade experts who manage to find the information from distributors or exhibitors. Sometimes, the collections given by the makers are a bit inflated. There have been instances where a film collected around Rs.97 or 98 crore in its lifetime. But the makers round it off to Rs.100 crore so that they can brag that their film entered the coveted club. But even in such cases, the real collections are out and even if they are not, one can at least make a guess that even if a film has not collected Rs.100 crore, it must have collected Rs.5 crore more or less, at the maximum.
However, in the case of ‘Radhe’, there has been absolute confusion. The producers, Zee Studios, have not given proper information regarding the film’s earnings on digital. The Salman Khan starrer had a hybrid release – it was released in cinemas as well as on the pay-per-view platform, ZeePlex. One had to pay Rs.249 to watch the film on the digital platform or on DTH. Then those who had a Zee5 subscription were eligible to watch the film once.
‘Radhe’ released on May 13 and the next day, Zee announced that the film got 4.2 million views. They also mentioned in their press release that this figure is as per ‘industry standards’. In layman terms, this means that by paying Rs.249, more than one person together must have seen the film. Hence, 4.2 million views doesn’t mean that 4.2 million subscriptions worth Rs.249 were bought. Not to forget, a section of people saw the film on DTH, where 20 or 30% of revenue went to the DTH operators. As for Zee5, it is impossible to say how many specifically bought the subscription just to see ‘Radhe’.
In short, all this led to conflicting figures. A section of trade initially simply multiplied 249 with 4.2 million and arrived at the figure of Rs.104.58 crore! Later, some genuine experts and journalists claimed that ‘Radhe’ got 17 lakh paid views on Day 1 and 25 lakhs in the four-day weekend. In other words, ‘Radhe’ earned Rs.42.50 crore on Day 1 and the 4-day collections stand at Rs.62.50 crore. Meanwhile, on DTH, it got 7 lakh more views. No data is available as to how many people viewed the film on Zee5.
And now, a reputed website called Box Office India made a shocking claim. According to their report, ‘Radhe’ collected around Rs.10-12 crore in the first week, from ZeePlex and Zee5. It predicted that the lifetime of the film from these avenues would be just Rs.15 crore! If we believe this report, then the deal is a loss-making one for Zee as the studio had paid around Rs.190 crore to secure the film’s rights.
As expected, fans have decided to believe the version that is in sync with their beliefs. Those who love Salman Khan are lapping up the Rs.104 or Rs.62.50 crore version. His haters and the fans of other stars are spreading the Box Office India theory. In normal times of traditional theatrical release, such a situation would have never arisen. As aforementioned, a producer might inflate a film’s collections by a few crores or in exceptional cases, to around Rs.10-15 crores. But in the case of ‘Radhe’, due to lack of transparency, there’s a difference of nearly Rs.50 crore. And this is bound to happen as there’s no direct access to gauge the viewership and earnings. When a film is out in cinemas, there are so many other players who come in the picture like distributors, exhibitors and trade. Hence, collections can be accessed through many sources. Here, only Zee has the complete information and since it’s refusing to divulge, everyone is having a field day making assumptions.
There’s one way to understand if ‘Radhe’s pay-per-view release is a success or a failure. If more big films come on board and decide to release their films on ZeePlex, it means that Zee has made money and is hence motivated to buy the rights of more films. If this doesn’t happen, then it’s sure to fan the speculation that the ZeePlex experiment of ‘Radhe’ has not earned dividends. A clearer picture will emerge in a month or two.