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Bollywood films unable to recover investment in last two quarters

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) In recent quarters, very few Bollywood films have made it to the cash counters. Only three films – ‘The Kashmir Files’, ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ and ‘Suryavanshi’ – managed to recover investment, Emkay Global Financial Services said in a report.

The recent poor performance is in stark contrast to the pre-Covid period where 35-40 percent were able to cover the production costs of theatrical releases.

The recent performance of Bollywood films has been decidedly underwhelming, with several mid-to-high-budget films failing to leave a mark at the box office. On the other hand, (South) regional films have managed to attract audiences to cinemas, the report said.

Bollywood has always been the mainstay to drive the entire box-office collection in a sustainable manner. Pre-Covid, used to account for 60 percent of the total box office collection. Bollywood films were also the highest grossing films in 11 of the 16 pre-Covid quarters.

However, in the post-pandemic era, the overall contribution has dropped significantly, as Bollywood films fail to attract audiences, says Emkay Global.

The recent poor performance of Bollywood films raises a related question: Is it just the weak content or are there other external factors like social media anxiety, the rise of OTT or something else at work? In terms of the second factor, the impact is more likely to be long-term and may reduce the long-term earnings of film exhibitors. However, we believe that content is a missing factor given that most films released after Covid did not receive positive reviews from critics initially, which translated into weak box office collections. Several big-budget films, including the recently released Samrat Prithivraj, received weak to mixed reviews. In our view, this is one of the main reasons behind the weak box-office collection, said Emkay Global.

Reduce the influence of superstars; content is king, the report says. In the past, big stars were able to attract moviegoers en masse, given their strong heritage. However, changing audience preferences have now resulted in content being the main focus. These lauded superstars are no longer able to attract audiences based solely on their brand names (views of YouTube snippets also testify to this structural change). Smaller films with relatively little-known stellar cast but stronger content have been able to attract audiences, while some big names have seen their box-office film collections erode.

While several Bollywood films have failed at the box office in recent quarters, we note that the number of Bollywood film releases is also well below pre-Covid levels. The number of Bollywood film releases, which used to be on par with the number of Tamil and Telugu films in 2019, lags behind its regional counterparts in 2021.

The importance of Bollywood to box-office collections can be gauged by the fact that, on average, it accounted for 60 percent of the overall collection in the 16 quarters before the pandemic. Bollywood films were also the highest grossing films in 11 of the 16 pre-Covid quarters. However, in recent quarters, Bollywood film performance has declined, with only three films delivering strong showings at the box office. This makes the percentage of hit films from Bollywood only 10 percent vs. pre-Covid rate of 35-40 percent.

Historically, Bollywood films have seen a decent collection even when the content is weak, given the sheer number of fans following the superstars. That seems to have changed over time, with content now the main driver. Most of the films released in the last 2-3 quarters have been mixed with negative critical reviews, suggesting that weak content is a major factor for poor performance.

In the past too, there have been several instances where Bollywood underperformed for several quarters before bouncing back, which leads us to believe that it will repeat itself this time too. Continued disillusionment with Bollywood content will delay the recovery of ad revenue for multiplex, Emkay Global said.


Update: 22-June-2022

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