Last year,Eid release Ek Tha Tigers box-office numbers set the tone of the festive season for Bollywood that the success of Barfi! carried forward. Later,a tussle broke out between Yash Raj Films and Ajay Devgn. The latter accused the former of monopolising screens for their Diwali release,Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JTHJ),leaving him with fewer exhibition options for Son of Sardaar (SoS) that was to hit the theatres simultaneously on November 13. In the end,when the two films released,JTHJ,with Shah Rukh Khan as the leading man,earned over Rs 90 crore in its first week,while SoS narrowly missed that mark. During Christmas though,Dabangg 2 broke several box-office records.
The festive season especially between Diwali and Christmas is considered a time when the audience gains an appetite for star-laden big-budget entertainers. For years,production houses have reserved their biggest releases for this period. Take for example,Christmas in 2008 when Ghajini and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi released a week apart. In 2011,when Ra.One,Rockstar,Desi Boyz,The Dirty Picture and Don 2: The Chase Continues all released within a span of 60 days.
In comparison,2013s calendar looks rather lacklustre. Krrish 3 is the only Diwali release this year. There is little buzz around Shahid Kapoors R… Rajkumar and Saif Ali Khans Bullett Raja even though their releases are nearly a month away. Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed Ram-Leela is the only big-ticket movie (November 15) before Dhoom 3 hits the screens on December 20 to capitalise on the Christmas spirit.
This has left the exhibitors wanting more. We make maximum revenue between Diwali and New Year before the dry exam season,which lasts from January to April. With Boss and Besharam having failed and no multiple releases on either Diwali or Christmas,we can only hope Krrish 3 and Dhoom 3 will make up for it, says Manoj Desai,owner of Maratha Mandir and G7 multiplex in Mumbai. Jal J Tata,owner of Regal in Mumbai,seconds Desai. Tata says he expects a shift in trend in the near future. Every distributor tries to monopolise screens for his big release,which can affect the business for the film releasing parallely. Filmmakers are perhaps trying to avoid such clashes and will continue to do so, he says.
While the industry may not yet be willing to view this as a trend,many are convinced that this seasons sparse playout could be the result of the pre-release clashes between production houses,like the one between SoS and JTHJ and a similar one more recently,between Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai 2 and Chennai Express. There is space for multiple releases but filmmakers are trying to give each other a wide berth, says Kamal Gianchandani,President,PVR Pictures. He says the failure of big films also amounts to greater losses and with higher rate of success of smaller,non-starrer movies such as Grand Masti,producers are avoiding a crowded season.
Desai,however,views this years line-up as sign of lack of confidence on part of filmmakers. He says,In 2004,Veer Zaara and Aitraaz released together on Diwali and did well. In 2007,the release of Taare Zameen Par and Welcome clashed but both had a good box-office run. People are willing to watch multiple films,its something filmmakers need to capitalise on.