2023: The First Quarter Is Dismal
The Hindi film business has little to show for the first three months of 2023. It’s not only the first quarter that’s been disappointing; the second quarter shows no signs of being much better at the box office, either.
Many filmmakers have jumped on the OTT bandwagon, seemingly because they believe it is less difficult to manufacture material for streaming services. It’s a one-stop shop when you’re creating over-the-top (OTT) content. You finish the work, submit it to the site, and get paid. There is no need to worry about marketing your film or meeting the requirements of major theatre chains.
Someone else’s marketing whiz will decide how your film will be distributed once you’ve made it. The issue, however, is that they have no idea how to properly handle different types of film.
Moreover, on OTT, you can give new life to stories that have been popular for a long time but whose specifics remain unknown. The case of Harshad Mehta, which was the focus of the 1992 documentary “Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story,” is illustrative.
Or consider the film “Rocket Boys.” You may have heard of Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai, but you probably didn’t know much about them and were too embarrassed to ask questions. The movie theatre chain would not have shown your film if you had produced it for theatrical release.
One must think about television networks in addition to OTT services. There are now hundreds available to both mainstream audiences and those with a preference for regional dialects. All have been consistently delivering high-quality content that is both engaging and well-made.
Entertainment that relies on action, comedy, and romance is acceptable, but today’s audience is receptive to more experimental works like ‘Scam 1992’ and ‘Rocket Boys.
Unfortunately, filmmakers lack the creativity to think outside the box. What their parents and grandparents provided for thousands of dollars is now served up for millions. However, when compared to prior films, these are noticeably subpar.
The current going rate for a regular film starring a major actor or actress is around Rs 200 crore. As a result of the fact that these megastars demand Rp 100 mln or more. That means less money may go towards the production itself. To that, you can add the price tag of using CGI to make these ageing actors and actresses look younger.
In most circumstances, a South Indian producer must be compensated for the cost of getting the remake rights. (almost all Hindi films are remakes of South Indian productions, when they are not inspired by Hollywood movies).
A film starring a famous actor or actress would need to gross over Rs 500 crore to break even with these kinds of production costs. It’s a high-stakes gamble that most movies can’t afford to make because of how rarely they succeed in doing so.
In this case, one may claim that satellite rights and over-the-top (OTT) rights also aid in a film’s financial success. However, these platforms place less trust in the filmmaker’s word when it comes to box office numbers and instead base the final cost of a film’s rights on its financial performance in the marketplace. When they first entered the Indian market, they placed more importance on the advertised price of a film than they do now.
If you look closely, you’ll notice that none of the OTT shows include any major celebrities. Character actors and actresses who were no longer working in Hollywood are heavily represented. It appears that performances and content are what draw in audiences. There have been 12 OTT-exclusive releases thus far this year, with another 18 following traditional theatre releases.
What can we learn about the sector after three months? Both “Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar” and “Pathaan” were successful to varying degrees. They’ve amassed about 700 million Indian rupees between them.
The former, “Pathaan,” earned an estimated Rs 500 crore, while the latter, “Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar,” made Rs 120 crore. The rest came from movies like “Kuttey,” “Gandhi Godse: Ek Yudh,” “Shehzaad,” “Selfiee,” “Mrs. Chatterjee Vs. Norway,” “Zwigato,” and “Bheed.” A total of about Rs 100 crore was brought in by other, smaller films.
Business results for ‘Bhola,’ which was published at the very end of March, won’t be known until much later. This is in stark contrast to the first three months of 2019, when some movies made Rs 100 crore or more. Films including “Uri,” “Manikarnika,” “Total Dhamaal,” “Gully Boy,” “Luka Chuppi,” “Badla,” and “Kesari,” as well as “Junglee,” “The Accidental Prime Minister,” “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To,” and “Thackeray,” brought in a combined Rs 1,100 crore during the first three months of 2018.
This quarter would have been a complete washout if not for ‘Pathaan.
The second quarter holds no more hope, continuing the trend of the first. This is because no significant developments occurred during the most recent fiscal quarter. Due to the unpredictability of the situation, major Hollywood producers like Sajid Nadiadwala and Karan Johar have held off on announcing any new films.
And there are no major corporations around to underwrite endeavours of any kind. It’s always been that way: people in this field make money, but they never put it back into the business. (except in property). Borrowed or outside money has always been used to make movies. Yash Raj Films’ ‘Pathaan vs. Tiger’ was the subject of a press release during the first quarter.
The announcement appears to be gimmicky, designed to keep the show in the spotlight for the first few days and attract an audience. After filming Rakesh Roshan’s “Karan Arjun,” the relationship between the two actors reportedly broke down. (1995). They reportedly had some sort of disagreement with Rakesh Roshan and decided they would never work together again.
Yet, Shah Rukh Khan still decided to film ‘Koylaa’ for the same producer. Thoughtful development during this time period resulted in cameo appearances in each other’s films.
The success of a film in its opening weekend has a positive effect on its chances in the cable, streaming, and satellite markets. They no longer take a film at face value when purchasing it. They now base their purchases on a movie’s gross at the box office. The satellite rights are worth 25% of the gross, while the OTT rights are worth 50%.
Social media and even the media benefit from exaggerated donations. The OTT and satellite industries are no longer deceived by these numbers. They require proof of GST payments made.
owners of multiplexes are in for a rough ride under these conditions. There has been no resumption of pre-Covid levels of foot traffic.
Almost all of the larger multiplexes, with a few exceptions, are leased, and box office receipts have not been high enough as of late to cover the costs. As an alternative to collecting rent, they allegedly suggested that the property owners be given a cut of the profits instead.
Cinemas are in a financial bind, therefore their management teams have come up with creative ways to bring in more money. The majority of the time, their ideas are not profitable.
The bright minds at PVR and INOX have come up with one such plan, and it’s so absurd it’s brilliant. For just Re 1, moviegoers at this theatre chain can catch thirty minutes’ worth of trailers for upcoming flicks.
You’d have to be quite foolish to spend 30 minutes of your time on trailers for upcoming movies, even if they were free. Is parking included with the Re 1?
Where will the new trailers come from if there is a shortage of movies both abroad and at home?
If someone pays Re 1, hangs out in the lobby, and then slips into another theatre where a longer film is playing, how do you catch them? There aren’t enough ushers to cover all the theatres in a multiplex.
What if the trailer you show doesn’t excite or disappoints the audience to the extent that they decide not to see the movie when it’s released? It could eventually lead to caravan ratings.
And what good would your kind offer do, given that all trailers and teasers are instantaneously accessible on YouTube once they enter the public domain?