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Bollywood Talk – Coronavirus partly to be blamed for the poor first quarter results of 2020

Photo Credit: Supplied

A few years back, it was normal not to expect much from the business point view in Bollywood from the first three months of the year. Very few biggies used to release and it was said that a combination of reasons like cold waves and exams used to affect footfalls in cinemas. But things began to change from 2018. It saw a series of successful films like ‘Padmaavat’, ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’, ‘Raid’, ‘Hichki’ and ‘Baaghi 2’. ‘Padmaavat’ even in fact collected a mind-boggling Rs. 282.28 crore at the box office, despite not releasing in four states. ‘Baaghi 2’ too exceeded expectations with a business of Rs. 160.74 crore. ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’ came with some hype but no one dreamed it will manage to cross the Rs. 100 crore mark.

The scenario got a bit better in 2019. It began with a bang with the blockbuster success of ‘Uri’. No one expected it to cross even Rs. 50 crore mark but it earned, believe it or not, Rs. 244 crore. ‘Manikarnika – The Queen Of Jhansi’ was not a hit but accumulated Rs. 90 crore. ‘Total Dhamaal’ had a lot of negativity among media and so-called intellectuals but masses made it a Rs. 150 crore grosser. Other films like ‘Gully Boy’, ‘Luka Chuppi’, ‘Badla’ and ‘Kesari’ too exceled at the ticket window.

As for 2020, it also started on an encouraging note thanks to ‘Tanhaji – The Unsung Warrior’. It was not a success in some states but the business in Maharashtra especially was so legendary that it ended its business with Rs. 269.70 crore. The other upcoming films too seemed exciting but sadly none of them worked well at the box office. ‘Street Dancer’ seemed like a sure-shot hit to many but its opening was shockingly poor and so was its overall business. ‘Love Aaj Kal’ started off well but public response was terrible. It opened at Rs. 11.47 crore but its lifetime earnings didn’t even cross the Rs. 35 crore mark! ‘Bhoot: Part One – The Haunted Ship’ was Vicky Kaushal’s first film after ‘Uri’ but its niche appeal and mixed word of mouth proved detrimental. Meanwhile, a lot was expected from ‘Chhapaak’ and ‘Panga’. But these women-centric films proved to be flops.

By the time it was March, the coronavirus scare began to increase day by day. ‘Baaghi 3’ had minimal impact of it initially but its opening got affected by lack of considerably hype and word of mouth. It ended its week one at Rs. 86.73 crore and its lifetime would have been around Rs. 115 crore. But sadly, cinema halls began to gradually shut from its 6th day of release. By the time it was its 11th day (March 17), cinema halls had shut across India. Its collection stood at Rs. 92.31 crore and it’s said that it’s unlikely that it’ll re-release after normalcy.

‘Angrezi Medium’ was the unfortunate one as it released a day after Delhi government shut its theatres. On Day 2 of release, most centres of Maharashtra were closed down. Slowly, all other states also followed suit. Its lifetime was a mere Rs. 9.06 crore. Despite Delhi shutdown and the fear, it had a decent opening of Rs. 4.03 crore. Hence, a Rs. 5 crore opening was possible if things were normal. Many missed watching it and it was hoped that it’ll resume its run once theatres open. It was released on digital platform Disney+ Hotstar. The inside news is that it the OTT giant handsomely paid the makers for its rights. With the death of Irrfan Khan, it will be interesting to see what may happen in this space.

Meanwhile, a few films did well thankfully. ‘Malang’ didn’t open well but had great response from public. It earned Rs. 57.96 crore. Saif Ali Khan-starrer ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’ performed decently with Rs. 24.58 crore. ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ was helped by Ayushmann’s presence majorly though the gay theme kept people away. ‘Thappad’ did very well considering its subject and collected Rs. 29.70 crore. It could have easily crossed the Rs. 35 crore mark if things were fine.

The total nett box office collections of all Bollywood films in 2018’s first quarter was Rs. 880 crore approx. In 2019’s first quarter, it jumped to Rs. 1041 crore approx. In 2020, it however came down at Rs. 735 crore approx. Had the highly awaited ‘Sooryavanshi’ released on its scheduled date on March 24, then this figure could have crossed the Rs. 1000 crore mark.

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