The movie was expected to do well. But it started slipping from the first Monday after its release. Exhibitors say the June quarter was a disappointment, and now, all hopes are pinned on new releases.
The June 16 mega release of Adipurush, starring Prabhas, the superstar from the south, was expected to do business of Rs 500 crore, which would have helped theatres like PVR Inox register a good performance. However, the film collected around Rs 274 crore over 10 days of business. It is now expected to struggle to touch the Rs 300 crore mark, say exhibitors.
It is an overall box office loss of Rs 100 crore in the northern belt and a similar loss in the south, said Amit Sharma, Managing Director of Miraj Cinemas. “The film had the potential to do double the business it has done till now,” he added.
Thanks to strong marketing, the film managed to rake in Rs 200 crore in the first weekend in all languages. However, starting day four, it saw a steep fall due to negative word of mouth, said theatre owners. The film was released in theatres in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada.
“The expectations were very high. But after the first three days, due to negative word of mouth, the film did not work. (This is) despite the changes made in the film’s dialogue, which (saw) the makers facing a backlash from the audience. Once there is bad word of mouth, it is difficult to get the public back. From Monday onwards, business dropped drastically, and occupancy fell to 20 percent from over 90 percent in the first three days,” said an exhibitor from Uttar Pradesh.
Another exhibitor, Vishek Chauhan, who runs a single-screen in Bihar, said that the film’s business and occupancy nosedived from its first Monday (June 19). “The film was completely rejected and kept falling. It fell by 50 percent on Monday over Friday’s (June 16) level and kept on falling by 15-20 percent, and by today it will be dead. This will affect the box office business heavily. The exhibition sector in the north is in distress,” he said.
The expectations were massive, and Adipurush not delivering is a blow to the theatre industry, especially when the cinemas had very few successes in the recent past, said exhibitor Akshaye Rathi.
In fact, the film would have done weaker business if the ticket sales were not fuelled by the bulk corporate and charity bookings, said Karan Taurani of Elara Capital.
Before the film’s release, Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor had booked 10,000 tickets for Adipurush for underprivileged children, and singer Ananya Birla announced the same a few days later. Telugu actor Manchu Manoj organised a special screening of Adipurush for 2,500 kids from different orphanages. Producer Abhishek Agarwal had announced the donation of over 10,000 tickets of Adipurush to underprivileged kids and residents of old-age homes.
“If we exclude the charity and corporate bookings, then the film’s revenue would have been 30-40 percent lower,” Taurani said.
Not in good shape
Sharma said that the June quarter of the new financial year has been disappointing because of the few successes seen during this period. “There is no momentum at the box office. Adipurush took screens of other films that were performing well, including Zara Hatke Zara Bachke (ZHZB) and Hollywood films like The Flash, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. If you see the Hindi film line-up, there is Satyaprem Ki Katha releasing on June 29, and then for around three weeks, there are no major releases. This has left the box office empty,” he said.
The exhibition industry is not in good shape, said Chauhan. “I don’t think the future looks promising, and we may not go back to our glory days. Today, most of the actors, producers, and directors are scared of the box office.”
He also pointed out that a film titled Bawaal by director Nitesh Tiwari, who has given hits like Dangal, is going directly to the over-the-top (OTT) platform. The film has stars like Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor, and one of the production companies is Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment.
“It is sad that it (Bawaal) is going straight to OTT. I hope this decision is not the result of a lack of confidence in the box office, because then that is a tough thing to work on,” said Rathi. He added that the film industry seems to be gripped with paranoia, which is why it is not backing its content with the confidence it deserves.
Chauhan said that exhibitors fail to understand why Hindi film releases are not properly timed this year. “There was Pathaan in January, and then we hardly had any major releases. In June and July, the scenario is the same. We don’t know why Bollywood is not releasing films in July, and then on August 11, we have three releases clashing. The scenario for the exhibition industry is bleak.
He said that business is volatile, and a film like Adipurush saw houseful shows during the first weekend. But beginning Monday, theatres had to cancel some of the film’s shows. “We were hoping Adipurush would run like Pathaan. It had potential with a pan-India star like Prabhas,” he added.
Like Chauhan, Taurani is also not too confident on the cinema business in the coming months, expecting only some respite from new releases. He said that all hopes are pinned on Shah Rukh Khan’s Jawaan (releasing on September 7), and if that film doesn’t meet expectations, then the September quarter will be a washout.
Hopes pinned on new releases
However, some exhibitors are hopeful about the upcoming line-up. “We were down 30 percent in terms of footfalls in 2022–23 versus pre-pandemic. Now, looking at the line-up post-July, I estimate footfalls to be down by 15-20 percent in 2023-24 versus 2019,” said Sharma.
The upcoming line-up of Hindi releases includes Satyaprem Ki Katha, Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani, Jawaan, Ajay Devgn’s Maidaan, Salman Khan’s Tiger 3, and Hollywood’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, among others.
Rathi pointed out the success of smaller films like ZHZB and The Kerala Story. “The success of ZHZB is a victory for not just one film, but it also says that one doesn’t always need majestic size and scale, and if you have something compelling to say and if you can price it right, then maybe you can have victories in the mid-segment films as well (business of smaller films has been the most affected in the post-Covid phase). I hope movies like ZHZB set the ball rolling,” he said.