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Last Updated : Oct 30, 2019 07:52 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Was it a Housefull Diwali for the box office? Uncertainty looms over film revenues

While Housefull 4 is surrounded with controversy over inflated box office numbers, South releases like Bigil and Kaithi have hit the ball out of the park

Housefull 4 poster (Image: Twitter/@akshaykumar)
Housefull 4 poster (Image: Twitter/@akshaykumar)

There seems to be no consensus within the film industry on the performance of Diwali releases, especially Housefull 4.

While some say Diwali was subdued, others are of the opinion that the business during the festival period was strong.

According to film business and trade analyst Girish Johar, it was expected that Diwali would maintain the 12-15 percent jump witnessed during the first three quarters of 2019. While the trend is positive, the growth in business during Diwali was around five to seven percent.

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And the major backlash for the subdued performance has been borne by Housefull 4. The film saw some major criticism by film critics. But that was not it as ‘Housefull 4 scam’ became a trending topic on Twitter.

And why did that happen? It was due to a Bollywood news portal reporting inflated box office numbers of Housefull4, which led to Tweeple calling it a scam.

While the portal says the film has hit a century on its fifth day along with many trade experts confirming the same on Twitter, Twitteratis find it hard to believe with some saying that the portal was paid to inflate the numbers.

According to some tweets, Housefull 4 in three days earned Rs 41.75 crore while the paid figures they believe went as high as Rs 50.75 crore.

While there is nothing new in box office numbers being inflated, Johar pointed out that “earlier it was around three to seven percent but now the trade has seen that the inflation has gone up to 30 percent.”

He also explained the process of how film trade analysts get box office data for a film. “We have access to cinema numbers to the grassroots level. There are box office numbers of every circuit which is available via distributors. The producer gets all numbers. There are 13 to 14 territories and from all circuits different collections are received. They get that tabulated. The producer has the first right of the number. After all, it is his film,” he said.

Hence, if a producer inflates revenue of a film, there is no way to cross check it.

Whether the numbers are inflated or not for Housefull 4 still remains uncertain but exhibitors are happy this Diwali especially with the Akshay Kumar-starrer.

Talking to Moneycontrol, Amit Sharma, MD, Miraj Cinemas, said, “Whenever Akshay Kumar comes, we know it is good news. Plus, Diwali is a festival time and people want entertainment. The strong position of the film on fifth and sixth day shows that. We saw a historical number at Miraj Cinemas. Masses are liking the movie and film is sustaining its business. Hence, a fantastic Diwali.”

He pointed the good performance of another film. “Saand ki Aankh (the film released on October 25) was a smaller film but on Saturday (day 2), it grew three-fold from Friday (day one) and Sunday (day three) it maintained the same number. Monday (day four) it has jumped to three-fold to Sunday number. Second film people have appreciated and are coming in large numbers,” said Sharma.

Saand ki Aankh, which has been made at a budget ranging between Rs 25 to Rs 30 crore, has collected over Rs 8 crore in five days of its release.

Johar believes that because the film saw a big clash it is being compared with a big film. He said the “best barometer is vis-à-vis their cost and in that case Saand ki Aankh should break-even in the next few days.”

Sharma added that “from an exhibitor’s point of view, it is a big thumbs up for the two films.”

In terms of overall footfalls for Miraj, the number went up from 39,000 on October 25 to 94,000 on October 28. “Yesterday it was 75,000 footfalls. Today we will do anywhere around 50,000. Diwali has been much better than last year,” said Sharma.

But if Diwali has been good it is not only because of Bollywood ventures but the south releases like Bigil and Kaithi have hit the ball out of the park. The Vijay-starrer is eying Rs 200 crore mark globally and the film for the first three days since its release on October 25 was ahead of Housefull 4. The film has also made it to top 10 ranks during the opening weekend in Australia and UK.

Similarly, Kaithi is seeing strong trends both in international markets and on its home turf.

“South films have done well fantastically. They have withered away the pre-Diwali slowness,” said Johar.

Although film business has been better compared to last year, clouds of uncertainty is looming over the industry due to the controversy around inaccurate box office numbers.

“There is a view within the industry saying that the box office numbers should be within the fraternity but that is not possible. Even in Hollywood, the numbers are there but there they have matured as box office reporting is more accurate, said Johar.

He added that Rentrak did try but the problem lies with the structure of the country. “Our cinemas are not automated in terms of box office numbers. Though we are computerized in selling tickets it is not automated for box office numbers. The entire country is not on a single platform. Plus, entertainment is a state subject,” he said.

Plus, inflated numbers also become a way for talent to ask for higher cost but the revenues are not there. Hence, the equilibrium is lost, he further said.

This is probably why Johar believes that box office numbers are nothing but marketing tool.

It may be a marketing tool but it sometimes helps in strong word of mouth. Take the example of Shahid Kapoor-starrer Kabir Singh which was more liked by the masses which led to long lines outside cinema halls mostly single screens. But the reporting of box office numbers piqued the interest amid urban audiences which led to the film working in multiplexes as well.

Whether Diwali was dull or bright remains unclear but now the focus needs to be on upcoming releases like Ujda Chaman, Bala then biggies like Dabangg 3, Good News.

Johar believes that “even if small films perform 20 percent up then we can maintain the 15 percent growth.”

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First Published on Oct 30, 2019 07:52 pm
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