With one of the best box office openings for an Indian film recently, Shahrukh Khan’s comeback film Pathaan may just be the much-needed moment of transition for a battered Bollywood which has seen its southern peers outperform it over the past two years.
The film made Rs 127 crore in net domestic collections within two days of release, according to trade portal Bollywood Hungama. The film’s producer Yash Raj Films announced that it had collected Rs 219.6 crore in worldwide gross box office collections in two days.
Another trade portal sacnilk estimates the film collected Rs 34.41 crore in the domestic net on Friday and pegs Saturday’s collection at Rs 55 crore, taking the film’s total estimated net domestic collections in four days to Rs 217.71 crore
“Collections are coming from across regions such as the Rajasthan belt and Gurgaon. It’s been a long time since any good straight Hindi film was released. There’s a lot of pent-up demand to go catch a film at the theatres,” says Dhishoom Cinemas Co-founder and CEO Tushar Dhingra.
While the performance of other Hindi releases in the coming days will show whether filmmakers have indeed corrected their content to suit a post-pandemic changed audience or if Pathaan is just a blip, the film’s opening shows there is a demand for good content at the theatres, experts say.
Film trade analyst Komal Nahta sees the film as a much-needed boost not just for Bollywood box-office collections but also for the overall sentiment among the audience towards Hindi films which has been the subject of much trolling and cancel culture. “With such a massive blockbuster that Pathaan is turning out to be, people are bound to feel inclined to come to the cinemas more often, thereby heralding happier days for the industry,” he adds.
With a gross box office of Rs 10,637 crore, 2022 became the second-best year at the Indian box office after the pre-Covid year of 2019, according to a recent report by GroupM India and Ormax Media. But with a string of flops, Hindi cinema lost 11 percentage points in the share (44 per cent to 33 per cent). With RRR garnering a whopping Rs 869 crore in domestic gross box office collections, Telugu cinema was the biggest gainer, growing its share from 13 per cent to 20 per cent, the report showed.
A number of reasons have been attributed to Hindi films not working at the box office. A post-pandemic discerning audience that is now accustomed to international content; Hindi content which has not kept pace with the changing times; a four-week window for theatrical films to premiere on OTTs; and the barrage of content available across the 40-odd video OTT apps, linear TV, sports, events, etc.
“Pathaan’s extraordinary numbers may be because of Shahrukh Khan’s appeal among the movie-going audience, but the baseline collections are because the content is right. No longer will a film open in Hindi or any other belt if the content is not right,” says Dhingra.
Khan’s successful film, a part of the spy universe being spun by Yash Raj Films with Ek Tha Tiger (2012), Tiger Zinda Hai (2017), War (2019), Tiger 3, and War 2, is bound to nudge Hindi films more towards franchisee films much like is the case in Hollywood, experts say.
“As content transitions more towards franchisee films and large-scale experience films, it is likely that Hindi film collections will recover. But even now challenges persist because small- and medium-budget Hindi films are not clicking at all,” says Karan Taurani, Senior VP and Research Analyst at Elara Capital.
Also Read: Pathaan opening weekend earnings: SRK-Deepika starrer to clock over Rs 50-60 crore in first weekend
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