Date Dilemma

With big movie clashes at the box-office becoming the norm, Screen traces the origin of the date drama

Mumbai | Updated: February 27, 2014 5:14 pm
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If one were to give a number to the releases churned out by Bollywood, one of the most prolific film industry in the world, then it would approximately be around 350 Hindi films. Add to it, another 120 Hollywood films that release in India. With regional films also on the rise, the box-office is super busy with approximately 600 films releasing every year. A number too huge to find a release in the limited 52-week-a-year box-office calendar. Little wonder that we have two-three films releasing every week.
However, the film face-offs really become a huge deal when there are two big-ticket films in the line of box-office firing. For instance, there have been a slew of reports speculating on Akshay Kumar starrer Holiday clashing with Ajay Devgn’s Action Jackson at the box-office. While it’s a given that two mega-budget films clashing would eat into each other’s business, there’s not much that can be done to avoid the clash as the ‘right dates’ for most films with higher stakes are very few. But when things get too frazzled about biggies clashing at the box-office, the industry often loves to cite the case of two films — Gadar: Ek Prem Katha and Lagaan — doing phenomenally well at the box-office despite releasing on the same day, same place, same time.
Most believe that at the end of the day, it’s the content that matters. “Too much has been invested in big films, so the stakes go up. Besides, a holiday release ensures more returns, so everyone wants to encash it. But, there have been films which have managed to open well, despite a non-holiday release, and it’s because the content was good. That’s what matters in the end,” concurs Girish Johar, Head, Distribution and Acquisition, Sahara Motion Pictures.
Inconsequential as it may seem, zeroing in on a film’s date is no cake-walk in today’s competitive times. A lot of factors are looked into, when finalising a release date, and more often than not, everyone wants to avoid a clash. However, the problem is worsened as there’s no regulatory body. Not even IMPPA (Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association) can play mediator when it comes to finalising a film’s release date. It’s absolutely the producer’s prerogative to do that. Add to it, the competition from regional films. Exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi explains, “When Bol Bachchan released in July 2012, S.S. Rajamouli’s Eega, which was released as Makkhi in Hindi, and Jatt And Juliet had also released at the same time. Eega and Jatt and Juliet, did better than Bol Bachchan in Andhra Pradesh and Punjab respectively.” But, more often than not, clashes are inevitable. So, here’s taking a detailed look at how exhibitors and distributors view different months of the year for a film’s release, and the clashes that can be expected this year:

CALENDAR OF CLASHES

JANUARY

A dull month and a big holiday

Once considered a jinx, the first month of the year is now considered a dull month to release a film, the exception being Republic Day: January 26. It’s a time when the North belt is under a ‘cold weather’ spell from December end, and since it’s a big market, producers avoid releasing a film around that time. On an average, 30 per cent of a film’s revenue come from the North, and if the film has a strong northen flavour, then the percentage can increase even more. Besides January 26 being a national holiday, it is also a time when the cold wave has subsided considerably. For instance, Race 2 released on the Republic Day weekend last year, and did well too. Agneepath, which released in 2012, proved to be the biggest hit for Dharma Productions, until Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani came along. Given the trend, most films that released in January haven’t done well, but the jinx came undone in the recent past when No One Killed Jessica (2011), which released in the first week of the first month of the year, was a hit. This year, Salman Khan starrer Jai Ho released on January 24 and managed to do decent business.
Big film of the month: Jai Ho starring Salman Khan made a business of Rs.104.9 crore at the end of Week 3.

FEBRUARY

Good time for small, high content films

February is an average month for films, with most office-goers gearing up for the closure of financial year. It’s also a pre-exam period. However, last year, films like Kai Po Che and ABCD- Any Body Can Dance which released in February proved to be hits. Given the pattern, it’s been observed that small films prefer a release in the first half of the year as big films dominate the second half. It’s also the month of Valentine’s, which is seen as a great period for romcoms. Ekk Main Aur Ekk Tu, which released on February 10, 2012, almost closer to Valentine’s Day, and did well. This year, the big-ticket film Gunday too release on V-Day, and managed to clock a good amount of Rs 43.93 crore in its opening weekend.
Big film(s) of the month: Gunday starring Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor made Rs.43.93 crore business in its opening weekend . All eyes are now on Shaadi Ke Side Effects starring Farhan Akhtar opposite Vidya Balan for the first time.

MARCH

The exam fever

March being the closing of the financial year is a hectic month for those working in the finance sector. Moreover, exams take over the schools and colleges, thus cutting down on the young audience. Says Mayank Shroff of Cinepolis, “February and March are usually busy months for office-goers, since the business year end is nearing. But this year, we’ve had films like Hasee Toh Phasee and Gunday do well. Even March has quite a few releases like Gulaab Gang, Total Siyappa, Bewakoofiyaan, among others.” There have been cases when films releasing in March have done well — like Kahaani, which released on March 9, 2012, turned out to be one of the biggest hits of that year. Saif Ali Khan-Ileana D’Cruz starrer Happy Ending is also expected to release in March end.
Big film of the month: Gulaab Gang stars one-time rivals Madhuri Dixit Nene and Juhi Chawla together in a film for the first time.

APRIL

The month of Indian Premiere League

The Indian Premiere League (IPL) used to be considered a big threat for movies initially, however that’s changing as films are now doing well during the period. The biggest example being Vicky Donor which struck gold at the box-office in April 2012 despite it featuring rank newcomers. Rathi has a different take on this as he says, “ I remember Biwi No. 1 came right in the middle of the Cricket World Cup in 1999, but it still became a huge hit. And it’s all because of women audience, an underrated factor. Having said that, it’s natural that big-ticket films avoid releasing their films during IPL as it ends up with atleast 15-20 per cent dent in the business.” Bhootnaath Returns , Kochadaiyaan, Main Tera Hero and 2 States will release in this month.
Big film (s) of the month: Bhootnath Returns starring Amitabh Bachchan will clash with Rajinikanth’s Kochadaiyaan on April 11.

MAY

The IPL mania continues

It is a time when the IPL fever is at its peak , forcing film-makers to avoid a film release at that time. “Usually the semi-final and final matches are held on a weekend, so film-makers avoid releasing films during the IPL weekend. This year though The Amazing Spiderman 2 is slated to release in May in India,” adds Shroff. As soon as the IPL comes to an end, a line-up of big films get set to release. For instance, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani released on May 31 last year, which was the immediate weekend after IPL wrapped, and was a big hit. This year, it’ll be YRF’s Daawat-E-Ishq starring Parineeti Chopra and Aditya Roy Kapur .
Big film of the month : Yash Raj Films’ Daawat-E-Ishq, directed by Habib Faisal, has Parineeti Chopra and Aditya Roy Kapur for the first time together.

JUNE

New term begins in school and colleges 

June is generally seen as a good month to release films, especially in the first week of June as schools and colleges are still on vacation period. Akshay Kumar-Sonakshi Sinha starrer Rowdy Rathore, which released on June 1, 2012, raked in the moolah at the box-office. According to Shyam Shroff, director, Shringar Films, “Months immediately after schools and college re-open are considered a good time for releasing films.” The Rs.100 crore-grosser, Raanjhanaa released in this period, last year. This year, two big-ticket films are set to clash at the box-office on June 6 — Action Jackson and Holiday, starring Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar respectively. Other films to release in June are Humshakals, Villain, Creature 3D among others.
Big film (s) of the month : Akshay Kumar’s Holiday to clash with Ajay Devgn’s Action Jackson. Common to both films is its heroine — Sonakshi Sinha.

JULY

A hassle-free month

With schools and colleges being back on track, and monsoons setting in, July is a very good month for film releases as seen by its track record in the past. Though the month is not high on festivals, people are relatively free around this time, and have a disposable income to spend on movies. Films like Singham, Bol Bachchan and Cocktail, which released in July, are a testament to that. In fact, in July 2012, Bol Bachchan and Cocktail released in consecutive weeks, and yet both the films did well. In all probability, July 27 is the date being blocked for Salman Khan starrer Kick this year, which happens to be Eid, falling on a Sunday. Priyanka Chopra starrer Mary Kom and Mardaani starring Rani Mukerji can also be expected to release in July, this year.
Big film of the month : Kick starring Salman Khan is expected to release on Eid this year, which falls on July 27, which is a Sunday.

AUGUST

The onset of festival season

It’s a month which kickstarts the festival season in India, with Ganesh Chaturthi, Independence Day and Raksha Bandhan. August is full of holidays, which attractive enough to lure the film industry to release movies. In 2012, Independence Day and Eid fell on the same day of August 15, which made a blockbuster out of Salman Khan starrer Ek Tha Tiger. Last year, August had back-to-back releases in the form of Chennai Express, which came on Eid, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobara (August 15), followed by Madras Cafe and Satyagraha in the consecutive weeks. This year, Ek Tha Tiger director Kabir Khan returns with Phantom starring Katrina Kaif and Saif Ali Khan in August. Singham 2 is also set to release on Independence Day this year.
Big film(s) of the month : Kabir Khan’s Phantom with Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif and Rohit Shetty’s Singham 2 with Ajay Devgn.

SEPTEMBER

A month of risky business

With Ganesh Chaturthi festivity continuing in September, people are too busy to go and see films. However, a good film never goes unnoticed as was evident last year with The Lunchbox. It released on September 20 and did really well, despite being a small, niche film. Shuddh Desi Romance and Grand Masti, which released on September 6 and 13, 2013 respectively, managed to do a good business, with other releases like Phata Poster Nikla Hero doing average. This year will see the release of Ranveer Singh-Govinda-Parineeti Chopra and Ali Zafar starrer Kill Dil on September 5, while Anushka Sharma’s NH10 may release on September 12.
Big film of the month : Kill Dil starring Govinda, Ranveer Singh, Parineeti Chopra and Ali Zafar is the big-ticket film of the month; it will have Zafar sporting an action avatar for the first time.

OCTOBER

 Pre-Diwali lull

Though October 2, also known as Gandhi Jayanti, is considered a good date to release a film, considering it’s a national holiday, last year’s release Besharam proved to be a box-office dud. This year, Hrithik Roshan starrer Bang Bang is slated to release on October 2. “I’m talking pure economics, that during the pre Diwali period, an average movie-goer doesn’t have much disposable income. A huge chunk of the income goes into Diwali shopping or painting the house, etc. That’s the logic behind big-ticket movies releasing on Diwali, and not before Diwali. Last year Besharam got that one-day advantage, but then the collections went down, so entering the pre-Diwali period is slightly dicey,” explains Rathi.
Big film of the month : Hrithik Roshan takes over the pre-Diwali space with Bang Bang this year; it will have Katrina Kaif opposite him.

NOVEMBER

Diwali advantage

Film-makers and actors usually fight for a Diwali slot, and have managed to do well in most cases. In 2012, Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Son Of Sardar released together, and despite the clash, both the films managed more than a Rs..100-crore business. “That’s the advantage of the festive period, especially since it’s a time when most people get their bonuses during Diwali. So, usually, the New Year day collections of films is humungous. The collections of Krrish 3 were maximum on the New Year day, last Diwali,” adds Rathi. This year, Farah Khan’s multistarrer Happy New Year is slated for a Diwali release.
Big film of the month : Farah Khan’s multistarrer Happy New Year with Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Sonu Sood, Boman Irani and Vivaan Shah.

DECEMBER

Christmas vacation

This year, Bombay Velvet and P.K. may clash together on December 25. Welcome Back was also to release on the same date, but the film may now get pushed to January 26, 2015. The Christmas vacation period is a time when even office-goers are on extended leave. It’s a great time at the movies. Films like 3 Idiots, and last year’s release Dhoom 3 are best examples of it. Interestingly, Welcome and Taare Zameen Par also released together on December 21 in 2007, and both the films ended up doing well.
Big film(s) of the month : Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet starring Ranbir Kapoor-Anushka Sharma is set to clash with Raju Hirani’s P.K. starring Aamir Khan on December 25.

Pre-booking for 2015!

In a new trend of sorts, production houses are now announcing release dates of their films well in advance in order to avoid clashes at the box-office. It involves mainly big films.
For instance, Karan Johar’s Shuddhi will release on December 25, 2015 even though the cast of the film is yet to be announced, after Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor are no longer a part of it. Salman Khan’s film with Sooraj Barjatya is slated to release in Diwali 2015, the shooting of which is yet to begin. In all probability, it’ll be Sonam Kapoor opposite Khan, but the official announcement is still to be made. Zoya Aktar’s film starring Farhan Akhtar, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma has been blocked for a June 5, 2015 release, while Ranbir Kapoor-Katrina Kaif starrer Jagga Jasoos will release on May 29, 2015. Shah Rukh Khan and Farhan Akhtar’s Raees is set to release on Eid 2015.
Will these announcements help to avoid clashes at the box-offices? Says Rathi, “You may announce the release date, but what if it’s not ready for release at that time. Like, P.K. which was slated to release on June 6 earlier has now been pushed to December, and will clash with Bombay Velvet.”
Shyam Shroff suggests an even more gloomy picture. “It’s a war of the mighty. One says Diwali is mine, second one says Eid is mine, third one says Christmas is mine. It’s like a ‘Aa dekhen zara, kis mein hai kitna dum!’ If more than one big movie is announced during a particular week, well wishers step in and compromise. I feel things could just get murkier in the days to come,” he concludes.

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