A poster of Salman Khan’s film 'Radhe' (Image courtesy: Zee Studios)
Zee Studios, a subsidiary of Zee Entertainment, has not seen strong collections in the overseas markets for its recently released venture Radhe, which stars Bollywood heartthrob Salman Khan.
The film, which was released in international markets on May 13, has so far collected around USD 2.6 million (Rs 19 crore).
Compare this with Salman Khan's previous release; his 2019 venture Bharat had grossed USD 10 million (Rs 74 crore approximately) in the overseas market.
Experts list out factors that led to lower box office collections for Radhe in the international markets.
Girish Wankhede, senior trade analyst for films and OTT, said that the hybrid release of the film could be one reason behind the low box office collections.
Hybrid release strategy
Radhe on May 13 had released in India on Over the top (OTT) platform ZEE5 as well as pay per view platform ZEE Plex, as theatres remained closed due to the coronavirus led lockdown.
While the film was released in theatres in the international market, experts said that it wasn't a big draw for the overseas audience.
Wankhede said that Zee's plan to release the film on digital even in the global markets, could be one reason why people did not prefer going to watch it in cinemas.
The film is currently available in the US, Canada as well as Bangladesh on ZEE5.
"Salman Khan films are for the whole family. If you are offering Radhe on digital at a reasonable cost where an entire family can watch, then why would people go to theatres to watch a film like Radhe," he said.
In an earlier interview with Moneycontrol, Rohit Gupta, Chief Financial Officer, ZEE, had said that in the international markets they will open the pay per view window once they have exploited the theatrical opportunity.
It is this strategy, which experts believe, has not worked in favour of Radhe's box office collections abroad.
Wankhede pointed out that the Middle East, which has been a big contributor in terms of overseas collections for Salman Khan ventures, did not rake in strong revenues this time.
Despite being the biggest market amid international territories for Radhe, the Gulf region saw collections to the tune of USD 1,650,000 (Rs 12 crore) for Radhe as against USD 4,410,000 (Rs 32 crore) for Bharat.
Experts also say that COVID-19 impact and weak content were the other drawbacks that led to Radhe's weak performance in the overseas market.
COVID-19 and content trouble
Film producer and trade business analyst, Girish Johar, noted that the COVID-19 wave had just started to recede at that point of time, when Radhe was released on May 13, unlike now when the second wave is nearing its end.
To lure audiences to theatres, he points out, the film wasn't a big draw.
"Hollywood films are doing decent business. So, if we have a good film it will have a good impact and we will see good numbers at the box office," noted Johar.
Shailesh Kapoor, CEO, Ormax media, a media consulting firm, concurs.
"We have seen recent films from the South like Jathi Ratnalu and Master do good business in the overseas market. Hence, Radhe's overseas performance can be attributed more to its content not being overseas-friendly, as well as the negative reviews that the film received. A more overseas-friendly film like Laal Singh Chadha will be expected to perform very well there," he predicted.
Adding to this, Wankhede said that lack of awareness about Radhe's release in the international market too impacted its business.
"The decision to release Radhe was abrupt. Zee, which helmed the affairs to release Radhe, couldn't monetise the film properly," he said.
While it did not work out for Radhe in terms of its overseas business, many producers are banking on international markets as theatrical businesses have started reopening there.
When it comes to restarting international markets, Johar said that currently Dubai, Australia, New Zealand have opened. He added: "The US has started coming up. Then there is the UK, Europe, and Singapore."
Wankhede said that the majority of the international markets are operating at 50 percent capacity.
With a touch of optimism, he pointed out that "overseas markets need Indian content. Films like Sooryavanshi, 83 will be well received as they (international markets) are hungry for Indian content."
When it comes to Indian content doing well in the overseas market, Telugu movie Jathi Ratnalu, made with a budget of around Rs six crore, garnered USD one million in US alone.
The film premiered in the US on March 10 this year.
Therefore, Kapoor said that "over time, we can expect that these markets will start contributing at the pre-pandemic 15 percent level put together."
The fast recovery in the overseas market is key for big Bollywood films like Sooryavanshi and 83.
Last year, Reliance Entertainment CEO Shibasish Sarkar had said that releasing his big-ticket films including Akshay Kumar's Sooryavanshi and Ranveer Singh-starrer 83 in international markets is important.
He had added that makers of both ventures are looking to release the films in around 80 international markets including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, and New Zealand.
The bulk of overseas collections come from these markets.
Hence, for the release of big Bollywood films, which contribute around 60 percent of the box office collections of a multiplex operator like INOX
, performance of overseas markets will be crucial.