Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Mohabbatein, Veer Zaara. It was a rare Diwali when cinema theatres didn’t screen a Yash Raj Films release. For whatever reason that tradition was broken five years ago but this time Bollywood’s famed film production house is ready with Thugs of Hindostan.
Starring Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, and directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya, the film is expected to be a big grosser at the box office. Jehil Thakkar, partner, Deloitte India, noted the film will be released across 4,000-5,000 screens; last Diwali, Golmaal Again was released across 3,500 screens.
“Apart from more screens, the higher ticket prices will see more money being earned,” Thakkar said.
While 2018 hasn’t been too bad for the industry —it got off to a great start with Padmavat—one more hit is always welcome.
Audiences can be unpredictable as seen from the footfalls, which fell to 311 million in 2014 from 343 million in the previous year, and further to 287 million in 2015. The last two years have seen a slight uptick but footfalls might still fall short of the 2013 peak. Unaffordable ticket prices are partly to blame, say industry experts; average ticket prices (ATP) rose 6.4% to `215 in 2017-18, filings by PVR showed. INOX Leisure also reported an 8% increase in ATPs to Rs 191 in 2017-18.
At PVR, the occupancy rate dropped slightly to 31.6% in 2017-18 from about 33% in the previous year. INOX Leisure noted, in its FY18 annual report that occupancy level dropped to 26% in FY18, while footfalls came down to 43.1 million.
At Rs 15,600 crore or just over $2.1 billion in 2017, India’s film industry is a small fraction of the the global pie of $40.6 billion. That’s because although there are anywhere between 1,500-2,000 releases in a year, less than 10% make money. India today has some 8,700 screens with more than 50% distributed to across five southern states, KMPG India estimates. However, India remains one of the most under-penetrated markets in the world.
Much of the new theatre capacity is coming up in the smaller towns and the higher footfalls could help push up revenues. Even as single-screen theatres constitute 68% of the total screens, in most markets these screens are being replaced by multiplexes.
In August this year, exhibition chains were at the receiving end after Ravindra Chavan, food and civil supplies minister of Maharashtra, announced that food items from outside will be allowed in multiplexes.
However, with multiplexes yet to allow outside food due to security issues cited by the Maharashtra government, a PIL was filed by Jainendra Baxi, a filmmaker in the Bombay High Court, where it was demanded they be allowed to carry food into theatres. The case is expected to come up for hearing next month.
Thugs of Hindostan is expected to make somewhere between Rs 40-45 crore at the box office on the day one, according to Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures, and chief strategy officer, PVR Cinemas. The film, which is also being dubbed in Tamil and Telugu, is a stand-alone release during Diwali in most parts of the country except Tamil market where it is expected to face competition from the Dhanush starrer action-thriller Enai Noki Paayum Thota and the Vijay starrer Sarkar.