By Joginder TutejaIt has been an extended dry spell for Bollywood box office, what with theaters remaining shut for over six months. Cinema halls were the first to shut down around mid-March before all-India lockdown was enforced and though major establishments started opening up over a period of time, there was no such respite for multiplexes and single screens. As a result, it has been over six months since new films have released in theaters.
It is for the first time in the history of Indian cinema that theaters have remained closed for over six months. The entire second (Apr-Jun) and third quarter (Jul-Sep) of 2020 has remained barren, hence resulting in unprecedented loss for the industry.
If I have to just talk about the box office, there has been a loss of over 2000 crores already, and here I am talking only about the revenue that would have come from Bollywood. If other regional industries would have to be added, there could well be similar moolah added to the losses.
Coming to Bollywood box office though, quite a few major big ticket films were supposed to release during this timeframe. Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi, Salman Khan’s Radhe, Ranveer Singh’s ’83, Varun Dhawan’s Coolie No. 1, John Abraham’s Mumbai Saga were just some of the mega budget films that were slated to release in quick succession. Just between these biggies, at least 1000 crores would have come comfortably.
The math is simple. Akshay Kumar had scored a hat-trick of 200 Crore Club blockbusters in 2019 [Mission Mangal, Housefull 4, Good Newwz]. Even a flop delivered by Salman Khan [Dabangg 3] had garnered around 150 crores. Ranveer Singh’s stocks have been ultra high after a 200 Crore Club [Simmba] and 300 Crore Club [Padmaavat] blockbuster. Varun Dhawan was looking at scoring another biggie with dad David Dhawan after Judwaa 2 (which comfortably sailed past the 100 crores mark). John Abraham was aiming for another biggie after Batla House, a film that almost scored a century.
With such credentials involved, bare minimum total of 1000 crores was on the cards with these stars and superstars.
Add to that the double bill of Kartik Aaryan [Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Dostana 2] after successes like Luka Chuppi and Pati Patni aur Woh, and you know that the youngster could well have had a field day with his fun movies.
This isn’t all as Akshay Kumar film festival was all set to continue with Laxmmi Bomb. The film would have brought in at least 150 crores but that’s yet another opportunity loss. Ditto for Ranbir Kapoor Shamshera, a biggie from the house of Yash Raj Films, which was meant to be an event release this summer but is now indefinitely postponed. That’s yet another box office loss of at least 150 crores. Add to this John Abraham’s Satyameva Jayate 2, which could well have been playing this week had its 2nd October release plans materialized.
Ajay Devgn’s Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior stays on to be the highest grosser of the year with collections of 280 crores. The way 2020 is going, it is set to emerge as the highest by close of year as well. However, if not for lockdown, his Bhuj: The Pride of India would have released this Independence Day. Now it is arriving straight on OTT, which translates into another massive box office loss. Same holds true for Shahid Kapoor as well whose Kabir Singh scored 278.24 crores last year. That would have made Jersey a hot property in the current season but that’s going to wait now. In fact Sidharth Malhotra too had seen resurgence last year with Marjaavaan and that made one look forward to his Shershaah this year.
2019 was truly phenomenal for Bollywood box office as 4000 crores mark was breached for the first time ever. Between 80 notable films, around 4400 crores were generated in the calendar year. That makes an average of 1100 crores per quarter. With theaters shut for two quarters in a row now, that’s a loss of at least 2200 crores, and that too while considering that the business wouldn’t have grown from 2019 to 2020.
There is always a silver lining though. From 15th October onwards, some states would open theater gates for the audiences. Will that make things better for Bollywood before the close of year? Well, stay tuned, as I bring in more insights for that in my next column.
Till then, fingers crossed!
Joginder Tuteja is a trade expert and film critic, and loves to talk and write about anything that is related to films. Views are personal.