Once upon a time, multiplexes, film producers and audiences would eagerly wait for festive season releases. But that seems to have changed. Amid a string of flop Bollywood films, top multiplex operators like PVR and INOX that were banking heavily on Diwali releases Ram Setu and Thank God are finding it challenging to see a recovery in footfalls. Occupancy rates at Inox were 17 per cent while PVR managed 24 per cent occupancy in the July-September quarter.
As per the trade reports, both Ram Setu and Thank God are underperforming. While Ram Setu saw morning occupancy of around 17-22 per cent. Thank God, on the other hand, is doing around 18 per cent on Day 1.
As per trade tracker Sacnilk, Ram Setu saw advance booking of Rs 1.7 crore for day one by Monday evening and the film—made on a budget of Rs 150 crore—is likely to earn somewhere around Rs 12-14 crore on day one in net domestic collections. Ormax forecasts it to earn Rs 17.6 crores. Thank God, however, is expected to rake in Rs 10-12 crore, according to industry estimates
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh called Ram Setu ‘mediocre’ which means the possibility of “word of mouth” sales is also out of the window for now. “Interesting premise, stunning visuals, decent first half, wonderful performance… But the second hour falls flat. Subject had tremendous potential but the writing is a mess,” he tweeted about the Akshay Kumar starrer. This film is directed by Abhishek Sharma and produced by Lyca Productions, Abundantia Entertainment, Cape Of Good Films, and Amazon Prime Video.
Post-COVID Bollywood movies’ content and writing has been in question which puts multiplex operators in a tough spot. “We all know that occupancy is related to the content which we are showing. And we have some major challenges with the content in Q2,” Inox Chief Executive Alok Tandon said in a recent earnings call.
According to Elara Capital, Ram Setu is expected to open higher at Rs 100-120mn whereas Thank God is estimated to be in the range of Rs 70-80mn. In terms of lifetime collections, Ram Setu and Thank God are projected to post net domestic box office collection in the range of Rs 750-800mn and Rs 550-600mn, respectively, which is a combined collection of Rs 1,300-1,400mn.
“We believe these numbers are below par, as Diwali has always been reasonably strong for exhibitors, and films released during this time period garner in the range of INR 1,900-2,000mn; in CY21 too, a large franchise film, Sooryavanshi, reported lifetime collection of Rs 1,950 million (pre-COVID too, the average number reported by 1 or 2 films released during Diwali has been Rs 1,900-2,000 million),” Karan Taurani, an analyst at Elara Capital said.
Box office numbers for Hindi films are 25-30 per cent lower this Diwali and we continue to believe audience taste and preference in the Hindi belt has changed, he adds. “Audiences will only come back to theatres if there is a change in content. We anticipate Hindi films will make a comeback in CY23, which may see the industry doing well,” he said.
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