Diwali is when disposable incomes in people’s hands are at an all time high, courtesy bonuses and this is when people splurge. Hence, producers, exhibitors and distributors make the most of this period. A movie is one of the cheapest outings you can have for the entire family. Both, a long holiday or dinner at a restaurant, are more expensive outings compared to watching a film at a theatre. In the smaller towns like Jhansi and Gwalior, the average ticket rate is not more than Rs.120. People like to go out with families and producers play to the mood of the audience as it’s time to celebrate. In the past, the Diwali releases have done really well at the box-office, whether it was Hum Saath Saath Hain or Dil Toh Pagal Hai.
The business for a Diwali release is farely good compared to any other release date. The makers of Happy New Year know that people will be busy with prayers and meeting families on Diwali (October 23) and have thus decided to release the film on Hindu new year instead (October 24). I won’t be surprised if HNY beats the record for the highest collections on day 1, which is currently held by Dhoom 3.
However, smaller, conceptual or art-house films usually don’t release around Diwali. For the sake of releasing it, one can put out a smaller budget film on Diwali but whether it doesn’t really make a business sense. At the max, the film will get two-three shows in a multiplex. Bol and Ra.One released in Diwali 2011, and Bol didn’t get sufficient number of shows. Not many are even aware of Kabab Mein Haddi which is releasing around the same time as HNY this diwali.
It’s best for a conceptual film to release during the IPL season as bigger films avoid the IPL period as they risk to lose about 15 per cent of their audience. Since the stakes are so high for a big- budget film, film-makers don’t want to risk losing that tiny portion of the audience who follow the IPL. In January 2014, Jai Ho released after which the next big budget film was Holiday which was originally supposed to release on May 1, but got postponed to June 6, as its makers didn’t want it to clash with the 2013 Lok Sabha elections and the IPL.
Haider which released in the first week of October 2014, around the same time as Bang Bang released, got eclipsed by the latter as it released in only 1100 screens opposed to the 4000 screens that Bang Bang released in. One can only imagine what would have happened had it released around the same time as HNY. If a smaller film releases, there’s the risk of not getting enough shows. More number of shows will be given to a big-budget film like HNY that boasts of huge star-cast.
To ensure maximum number of women and family viewers for the 2006 Diwali release, Vivaah, we decorated cinema halls in places like Raipur, Nagpur, Bhilai like shaadi mandaps, shehnai was played and mehndi artists were arranged for the female viewers. Our aim was to capitalise on the theme of weddings along with the festival of lights, which is about spending time with one’s family. Most of the films that year ran for three-four weeks while Vivaah had a long run of 10 weeks.
Ra.One, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Veer-Zaara, Krish 3, have all released during Diwali and have done commercially well. Both Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Son of Sardar that released in Diwali 2012 even drew 100 crore at the box-office.
As told to Kanika Rajani