Bollywood half yearly BO report Kalki 2898 AD Hindi version only bright spot in dull season

The Hindi dubbed version of the dystopian epic is expected to do numbers north of Rs. 300 crore

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  10 July 2024 9:45 AM GMT
Bollywood half yearly BO report Kalki 2898 AD Hindi version only bright spot in dull season

Mumbai: The success of the Hindi version of "Kalki 2898 AD" is the lone bright spot for the Hindi film industry in a 2024 punctuated with big budget box office failures "Bade Miyan Chote Miyan", "Maidan" and "Yodha", say trade experts and industry insiders.

According to the six-month report card of the industry, the business of the Hindi cinema exhibition sector is down by 20-30 per cent. Small films and original ideas made their presence felt with films such as "Laapata Ladies" (Rs 20 crore) and "Munjya" (Rs 98 crore) but not enough.

"Had it not been for ‘Kalki 2889 AD’, I would’ve said the first six months of 2024 are quite bad. Although ‘Kalki’ is not a Bollywood film, it has brought a new lease of life with its Hindi dubbed version. ‘Kalki’ came just to improve our report card; otherwise, it would’ve been full of red marks,” trade analyst Komal Nahta told PTI.

The Hindi dubbed version of the dystopian epic, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Prabhas, Kamal Haasan and Deepika Padukone, is expected to do numbers north of Rs. 300 crore, he said. In total, the pan-India film, also in Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam, has grossed over Rs 900 crore.

In Nahta's view, "Kalki 2898 AD" is primarily a Telugu production but its Hindi dubbed version has done fantastic business.

The other films released during the year did dismal business.

Ajay Devgn's sports drama “Maidaan”, which reportedly cost Rs 235 crore, earned Rs 63 crore gross in India, while "Bade Miyan Chote Miyan", which was reportedly made on a budget of over Rs 350 crore, grossed over Rs 110 crore in India. Sidharth Malhotra's "Yodha", another big budget actioner that cost Rs 55 crore, earned over Rs 42 crore, way less than what was expected of them.

Devgn's supernatural horror “Shaitaan” did relatively better with earnings of Rs 147 crore. Similarly, Rajkummar Rao's “Srikanth” earned Rs 47 crore.

There were other minor hits.

"Fighter", an action movie starring Hrithik Roshan, Deepika Padukone and Anil Kapoor and made on a reported budget of Rs 250 crore, was barely declared a hit by earning a global gross of over Rs 300 crore.

Similarly, Shahid Kapoor-Kriti Sanon's “Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya”, made on a reported budget of Rs 75 crore, earned Rs 139 crore in global gross. Yami Gautam’s “Article 370”, made on a budget of Rs 20 crore, turned out to be a major hit by grossing Rs 105 crore.

"Crew", fronted by Tabu, Kareena Kapoor, and Kriti Sanon, made over Rs 96 crore in India, and Kartik Aaryan-fronted “Chandu Champion” Rs 73 crore, according to Sacnilk, a trade tracking website.

"Business is down by at least 20 to 25 per cent as compared to last year. The exhibitors are bleeding,” Nahta said.

Mumbai-based exhibitor Manoj Desai and Jaipur distributor Raj Bansal pegged the numbers at 50-60 per cent lower than 2023.

According to the media analytics and consulting firm Ormax Media, the box office collection of Hindi films from January to May 2023 was Rs 1,443 crore. This year was significantly less with earnings from January to May 2024 at Rs 1,251 crore. The agency is yet to compile data for June 2024.

Desai described the period as the worst for the exhibition industry, so different from last year that saw money spinners "Pathaan" and "Gadar 2".

"The year 2024 has been very bad for us. We don't know what to do now since we don't have any other alternate business. Last year was filled with many blockbusters like 'Pathaan', 'Jawan', 'Gadar 2', 'Animal' and many more. But in 2024, all the films released so far have not worked in a big way," Desai, who serves as an executive director of Gaiety Galaxy cinema in suburban Mumbai, told PTI.

"Producers and distributors earn money irrespective of the fate of the film. It's exhibitors like us who have been suffering. Business is down by 50 to 60 per cent across all theatres. We have the lowest ticket rates in our theatres but we are finding it difficult (to run it), while those who charge exorbitant ticket rates like Rs. 500 to Rs 1,500. I don’t know how they are surviving,” he said.

Jaipur-based Bansal agreed.

"Last year, there were at least five Rs 500 crore films with 'Pathaan', 'Jawan', 'Gadar', 'Tiger 3', and 'Animal'. The business is down by more than 50 per cent when compared to 2023."

Chennai-based trade analyst Ramesh Bala told PTI that Hindi-language films still struggle to make a mark in the South.

The films that attained some success in the South were Atlee's “Jawan” and Sandeep Reddy Vanga's “Animal”, directed by filmmakers who belong to the region.

“There’s an audience for Hindi movies in metros like Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bengaluru and they usually like watching action movies or Hindi films that have south connection and out-of-the-box films. There hasn’t been anything exceptional coming out from Hindi cinema this year,” Bala said.

Audiences are not watching Hindi movies in theatres as frequently as they did before and experts believe high ticket price and poor content are to be blamed.

Nahta said the Hindi film industry should reevaluate its strategies and prioritise content-driven storytelling.

"My observation is that till you don’t give something compelling to the audience,they are not going to come to cinemas. Post-Covid that change has come as a lot of people have shifted to watching films at home. They wait for films to come out after three-four months on OTT. So, to bring them back to cinemas, you’ll have to improve on your scripts,” he said.

In Bansal's view, the reason behind the failure of Hindi cinema is "weak content, less focus on music, and high prices of movie tickets".

The industry, he said, has realised this and that's why has come up with special offers like National Cinema Day when ticket prices are way too low.

"We have to reduce the ticket pricing because we are competing with OTT. Today, OTT is the biggest competitor of films," he added.

Will the second half of 2024 be better?

The industry insiders certainly hope so.

Among the films lined up for release are “Stree 2”, “Vedaa”, the third part of the “Singham” franchise, “Baby John” starring Varun Dhawan, besides south-language movies like Allu Arjun-starrer “Pushpa 2” and NTR Jr’s “Devara”.

"We were hoping that post-June some good films will be released but some of them are getting pushed ahead. We are still expecting something good will happen as we’ve some great line-up for release,” Desai said.

"I’m hoping 2025 will be a good year as all big films are releasing next year like Shah Rukh’s film, Aamir’s ‘Sitaare Zameen Par’, Hrithik’s ‘War 2’,” Bansal predicted.

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