Unlike 2017, the year 2018 turned out to be a successful one for the Hindi film industry in terms of box office. The attendance in the theaters improved and more people turned up for the movies.
“2018 has been better than 2017 for Bollywood. There was around 12-15 per cent growth and almost every month had a film entering the Rs 100-crore club,” revealed trade analyst Girish Johar. The credit for this big development goes to films with a good screenplay. This year, the coveted 100-crore entrants were films like Stree, Badhaai Ho, Padmaavat, Sanju and Raazi which were packed with good content and powerful performances.
During the year, cinephiles made their choices loud and clear as they outrightly rejected films with stale and unimpressive content, though they had big-bankable actors backing them. In fact, the stars who left the cash registers ringing included some of the unconventional actors of Hindi film industry like Vicky Kaushal, Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao, Taapsee Pannu and Pankaj Tripathi. The Midas touch of the three Khans – Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir could not work as their films failed to survive the competition.
Aamir’s Thugs of Hindostan made on a budget of over Rs 300 crores, managed to earn only Rs 151.19 crore after running in the theaters for five weeks. Shah Rukh Khan’s much-awaited drama Zero disappointed the viewers and how. By the end of the first week, Zero could add only Rs 86.70 crore to its kitty. Salman Khan’s thriller Race 3, after entering the Rs 100 crore club on the first weekend, could manage to only mint Rs 166.40 crore by the end of six weeks.
While many have been arguing that the reign of the three Khans has come to an end, Girish Johar suggested that they will “bounce back”. He said, “All the three Khans have not delivered, but by no means, their stardom can be taken away. The box office opening of their films proves that they are still the stars in their own capacity and their fans still love them. They just need to select the script wisely. They will bounce back soon.”
However, the films that cruised past the Rs 100 crore mark include Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s Padmaavat with a collection of Rs 302.15 crore, Kartik Aaryan starrer Sonu Ki Titu Ki Sweety (Rs 108.95 crore), Ajay Devgn’s Raid (Rs 103.07 crore), Tiger Shroff’s Baaghi 2 (Rs 164.38 crore), Alia Bhatt-Vicky Kaushal’s Raazi (Rs 123.84 crore), Ranbir Kapoor starrer Sanju (Rs 342.53 crore), Akshay Kumar’s Gold (Rs 104.72 crore), Rajkummar Rao-Shraddha Kapoor’s Stree (Rs 129.90 crore) and Ayushmann Khurrana’s Badhaai Ho (Rs 137.59 crore). The latest entry to the club is Ranveer Singh’s Simmba which has been having a successful run in the theaters and in just five days has added Rs 124.54 crore to its account.
While films like Stree, Raazi, Badhaai Ho and Padmaavat proved lucrative, the box office trend that could be observed in 2018 is that the films from varied genres and with good content fared well at the ticket counters. They arouse the interest of the audience who once only accepted films with big stars. Commenting on the latest trend, Johar said, “Stars do guarantee a good opening but people have grown smarter and also merciless. They are in no mood to take below par content at such expensive tickets. You can attract them on the first day but later, you need good content to sustain the interest of the audience. Entertainment avenues have increased so you have to bring people to the theater by offering them something better.”
The highest grossing film of the year was Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju. It became one of the top three earners in Bollywood as it collected Rs 342.53 crore, the third highest after Baahubali 2 – The Conclusion’s Rs 510.99 crore and Dangal’s Rs 387.38 crore. Being a non-vacation and a non-festive release, it changed the perception about films crossing milestones only around festivals.
Fox Star Studios CEO Vijay Singh credited the massive success of Sanju to its content and the stellar performances by the cast. He told indianexpress.com, “The credit for Sanju’s success has to go to Rajkumar Hirani. Everyone knows he’s a master director and I think he’s revalidated the power of the story and story-telling with Sanju. The second thing, of course, is performances. I think after a long time, there comes a film where it’s not just one performance. The quality of performances that Ranbir and all the others including Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal and Manisha Koirala have delivered, it’s just outstanding.”
Also, films like Andhadhun, October and Tumbbad doing well at the box office proved that the audience wants to watch something different. “New genres have opened up with Stree, October and Andhadhun. New thinking has brewed in the industry after the new genres worked for filmmakers,” opined Johar.
Now, with the year ending with as many as 13 films in the Rs 100 crore club, two films Sanju and Padmaavat in Rs 300 crore club and no film being able to touch Baahubali 2’s Rs 500 crore earnings, it will be interesting to see how the year 2019 will turn out for Bollywood in terms of box office numbers.