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The growing 100 crore club

In the first 7 months of the year,at least 4 films have crossed the coveted Rs.100-crore mark.

Written by Sudipta Dutta |
August 1, 2012 1:19:46 am

While the biggest releases of 2012,films of Aamir Khan and Salman Khan,are still awaited,Bollywood has already seen four films breaching the R100-crore mark this year. With screens and average ticket prices growing 30% and audiences showing preferences for all genres of films,Bollywood reaps the returns

The gloom and doom sentiment in the economy notwithstanding,there’s one sector in the media and entertainment industry which is already heralding 2012 as a “blockbuster year”—films. In the first seven months of the year,at least four films have already crossed the coveted Rs.100-crore mark. This when several big releases are still awaited,like Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger,Kareena Kapoor’s Heroine,Ranbir Kapoor’s Barfee,Aamir Khan’s Talaash,Salman Khan’s Dabangg 2 and Ajay Devgn’s Son of Sardar. Aamir Khan and Salman Khan’s films usually do well at the box office. Aamir Khan’s Ghajini and 3 Idiots,Salman Khan’s Dabangg had all breached the R100-crore mark. The year started well for Bollywood with Hrithik Roshan’s Agneepath (a remake of the Amitabh Bachchan classic) grossing R123 crore. Three others,Housefull 2 (R111 crore),UTV’s Rowdy Rathore (R134 crore) and Bol Bachchan (R100 crore),also cheered the industry. “It’s going to be a blockbuster year for the industry,” says Pramod Arora,group president,PVR. “June and July have been fantastic and films like Ek Tha Tiger and Dabanng 2 are yet to release,” he points out.

Last year,five films entered the R100-crore club—Wanted and Ready (Salman Khan),Ra.One and Don 2 (Shah Rukh Khan) and Singgham (Ajay Devgn). In 2011,the film industry was pegged at R9,300 crore and according to KPMG analysts,it is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 10%,to touch R15,000 crore in 2016. With several high budget Hindi releases lined up across the year,2012 is expected to sustain the growth momentum witnessed in 2011,they say.

There are several reasons for the optimism in films. Arora says Indian consumers are coming of age in their film preferences and looking at serious cinema. As a result,“dark horses”,like say a Vicky Donor (made at a small budget), grossed around R30 crore and Kahaani grossed R50 crore plus. A number of regional films,including Bengali,Punjabi,Tamil and Telugu,too,have done well this year at the box office. “When there were too many stresses,people liked to watch films,which worked as an escape mechanism. Now with the economy improving,people are willing to watch real cinema. Films which would have been dubbed arthouse cinema in the past are now mainstream films,” says Arora.

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While good content is the biggest pull towards the multiplexes,UFO Moviez COO Pankaj Jaysinh says digitisation has also helped the industry grow box office revenues. “Digitisation has certainly helped the growth in box office collections. For instance,in the pre-UFO days,a big film would release in about 500 theatres,but today,thanks to digitisation,a big film releases in 2,000-2,500 screens on an average. The widespread first-day-first-show releases enabled by satellite delivery solutions have ensured that films are able to reach increasingly larger audiences in the crucial first week (end) of release,which translates into increased box office collections,” he explains.

Even a light comedy like Balaji’s Kya Super Cool Hain Hum has grossed R26 crore in three days, thanks to a wide release. The films that have released on more than 1,000 plus digital screens this year are Agneepath,Rowdy Rathore,Housefull 2,Agent Vinod,Bol Bachchan,Players,Jannat 2,Tezz and Hate Story. At least three of these grossed over R100 crore and Agent Vinod,which didn’t do the numbers it was expected to do,still earned R8 crore at the box office. Some of the films that are expected to get a wide release digitally in the next six months are: Ek Tha Tiger,Raaz 3,Son of Sardar and Dabangg 2.

“Multiplex players who have added screens are reaping the benefits of this rush to the cinema,” says Arora,adding that PVR will add 70-80 screens each year in the next three years. It is hoping to hit the 220 screen mark this year,he adds.

“Bollywood is going to get higher returns than last year,” says Siddharth Roy Kapur,MD,Disney UTV,which saw success with a big-budget film like Rowdy Rathore and smaller-budget films like Ek Main Aur Ek Tu (R33 crore) and Paan Singh Tomar (R18 crore). Kapur attributed the rise in box office revenues to the wide releases,thanks to the growing number of screens and digitisation,and the increase in ticket prices. Industry estimates say over the past two years,there has been a 15% increase in screens and a 15% hike in average ticket prices. India has 11,000-odd screens at the moment,including multiplex (900 screens) and single screen theatres. The box office is a key part of the revenue stream for films and though the collections have grown,theatricals contribute 50% to revenues of a film,the rest coming from satellite,overseas,music and digital rights.

“The broadcasters feel that films play an important part in their growth strategy. It gives them good ratings and helps to create a brand. Thus,the film industry has benefited by selling satellite rights at good prices to broadcasters,” says Kapur. Disney UTV has sold satellite rights of upcoming films like Joker and Barfi to Zee.

Revenues of Hollywood films at the box office are on the rise too,especially action,franchises and thrillers. Sony’s Spiderman,Warner’s The Dark Knight Rises,Disney UTV’s Avengers have all crossed the R50-crore mark at the domestic box office. Even Fox Star Studios animation film Ice Age 4 grossed R8.5 crore in the first weekend,making it the fifth highest opener this year.

“Avengers was the first Hollywood film we were marketing,” says Kapur,“and we gave it a wide release,aggressively marketing the film. That gave us success at the box office.”

With the Khans and Kapoors set to release their films over the next five months (Aamir,Salman,Ranbir,Kareena),Kapur adds, “We have very,very big five months coming up. As an industry it’s likely to be the biggest year Hindi cinema has ever seen.”

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