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Flood of flops at the box-office hits Bollywood hard

A slew of underperforming films have ensured that box office collections in 2015's first quarter plummets to a new low. The industry is estimated to have lost Rs 200 crore already...

If the Bollywood box office in 2014 was more about damp squibs than smash hits, this year, so far, has been no different. In fact, the first quarter report card suggests it is way worse with only four out of a total 39 releases doing good business.

A stills of Dum Laga Ke Haisha

A trade insider says box office collections for the first three months come to around Rs 375 crore, which is Rs 75 crore short of 2014’s first quarter. “'Badlapur' and 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' proved to be above average. 'Baby' was a high grosser, but also an expensive film. As it could not break even, it wasn’t declared a hit,” adds the source.

Baby

January saw much-hyped films like 'Tevar', 'Alone', 'Baby', 'Dolly Ki Doli' and Hawaizaada hitting the theatres, but only 'Baby' was applauded by the critics and its business grew due to positive word-of-mouth buzz.

NH10, which were offbeat films made on a small or moderate budget and worked at the box office
From top to bottom: Stills of 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha', 'Baby' and 'NH10', which were offbeat films made on a small or moderate budget and worked at the box office

The next month had just two releases that were worth a serious watch — 'Badlapur' and 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha'. The other star-studded films like 'Shamitabh', 'Roy' and 'Ab Tak Chhappan 2' failed miserably.

Varun Dhawan and Yami Gautam in a still from Badlapur, which drew huge crowds to the theatres
Varun Dhawan and Yami Gautam in a still from Badlapur, which drew huge crowds to the theatres

Trade analyst Vikas Mohan believes what worked was the content and not the presence of stars.

Arjun Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha in Tevar which failed miserably at the BO
Arjun Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha in 'Tevar' which failed miserably at the BO

March had only Anushka Sharma’s 'NH10' to salvage the box office slump and did decently well considering its modest budget of Rs 13 crore.

Roy starring Jacqueline Fernandez, Arjun Rampal and Ranbir Kapoor (not in pic) recorded highest first day collections at R9.11 crore
'Roy' starring Jacqueline Fernandez, Arjun Rampal and Ranbir Kapoor (not in pic) recorded highest first day collections at Rs 9.11 crore

In these three months, while maximum films failed to survive beyond one week, none of them could even manage an opening above Rs 10 crore on the first day. 'Roy' starring Arjun Rampal, Jacqueline Fernandez and Ranbir Kapoor registered the highest first day collections with Rs 9.10 crore.

Sonam Kapoor-starrer Dolly Ki Doli failed to work its charm on the audience
Sonam Kapoor-starrer 'Dolly Ki Doli' failed to work its charm on the audience

Media observer Shailesh Kapoor states, “No film in the first quarter came close to making Rs 100 crore, which has become an easy target nowadays. The audience has decided to stay away from theatres as the content of films has been weak and ticket prices have steadily gone up.”

Alone featuring Bipasha Basu in double role alongside Karan Singh Grover didn’t set the cash registers ringing
'Alone' featuring Bipasha Basu in double role alongside Karan Singh Grover didn’t set the cash registers ringing

Trade pundits cannot recall a single year since 2000 when Q1 of the box office plummeted so low. Says Amod Mehra, “The first quarter has been disastrous for the industry as it has borne a loss of more than Rs 200 crore already. All the films flopped barring 'Badlapur', 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' and 'NH10', which were all off-beat stories with small or moderate budget.”

Veteran distributor Ramesh Sippy labels this quarter’s performance as the worst in the last decade, adding: “Chances of improvement are not visible in the immediate future.

If the box office collection closes on a depressing note, many exhibitors will consider closing shop and cinema expansion may head towards the negative realm. Producers need to pull up their socks and work on subjects and scripts sincerely.”

There is a flicker of hope in the second quarter which will offer bigger films like 'Gabbar Is Back' and 'Bombay Velvet', expected to open in the Rs 10-15 crore range on the first day. “If even one of the two finds audience appreciation and crosses Rs 100 crore, it would be a salvaging quarter for the industry. Otherwise, we can say that it will go through its worst phase in the last five years, if not more,” Kapoor adds.

Filmmaker Vipul Shah filmmaker points out that ‘average’ content will not work at the BO anymore, but is optimistic about the April-June period. “The next three months look good with Shoojit Sircar’s 'Piku', Anees Bazmee’s 'Welcome Back' and Zoya Akhtar’s 'Dil Dhadakne Do'. We need to explore new subjects and the treatment has to be different,” Shah says.

Analyst Komal Nahta, however, believes the second quarter might also be lacklustre as there are no ‘Khan’ movies till July. “Small films have worked in the first three months, but I can see the stars driving the business in the second half of 2015,” he suggests.

Top 3 openers
Rs 9.10crore
'Roy' first day collection

Rs 8.15crore
'Baby' first day collection

Rs 7.10crore
'Badlapur' first day collection

Films that worked
>> 'Baby'
>> 'Badlapur'
>> 'NH10'
>> 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha'

First quarter figures
Rs 450crore
2014 top grossers — 'Hasee Toh Phasee', 'Gunday', 'Queen', 'Ragini MMS 2' and 'Jai Ho'

Rs 375crore
2015 top grossers — 'Baby', 'Badlapur' and 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha'

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