The Rs 150 crore Bengali film industry which produces around a hundred movies annually gives only five-six hits, according to an industry report.
“Although Bengali cinema today releases around a 100 odd films every year which is almost three times higher than comparable figures in 2005; the recent trends in box office collection has not been that encouraging,” said a report on the Bengali film industry by CII and IMRB.
Citing industry estimates, it said not more than 10 per cent films released in a year break even and around a handful of films, typically five-six generate enough surpluses to be termed as hits.
The total investment in Bengali film industry, fondly called Tollywood, is estimated to be around Rs 150–180 crores of which a very large portion is from Shree Venkatesh Films.
“The buoyancy in the investment however is not matched by the absolute and the growth in earnings in recent years. The industry is valued at Rs 120-150 crores in terms of expected revenue in 2014 and has shown negligible growth over last year,” the report said.
A primary survey of 35 single screen theatres across Kolkata and West Bengal revealed a dismal 30 per cent occupancy on weekends and around 20 per cent on weekdays.
Almost 70 per cent of the box office collection of Bengali films today is claimed by 22-25 films emanating from three-four large production houses.
“This has left a large number of individual producers, small time players operating in the space on a short-term basis unable to recover their promotional expenses let alone production costs,” the report said.
Industry experts believe that the current trend in Bengali film production is not a sustainable one. Home to acclaimed directors and actors, there is a need to revive an industry that contributes to eight per cent of the total films made in the country but fails to accounts for its fair share of revenue.
A survey of Bengali film viewers in Kolkata revealed that a majority (54 per cent) have not been in theatres in the last one year to watch a Bengali film despite proliferation of multiplexes.
In the districts, around two thirds have visited halls to catch a Bengali film but the frequency of visits are quite low, not even three films in a year.
Mobile phones, on the other hand, are fast becoming the preferred medium of entertainment especially in smaller towns where six out of ten people watch films on their cell phones.
The highest grossing Bengali film of 2013 was the Dev starrer adventure film ‘Chander Pahar’ whose box-office collection was over Rs 15 crores, an unheard of figure by Tollywood standards.
Some of the other recent releases which had done excellent business at the box office are ‘Awara’ (2012), ‘Paglu’ (2011) and ‘Mishawr Rawhoshyo’ (2013).
To transform the regional industry, CII suggests that the primary focus should be content and converting single-screens into miniplexes.