A man walks past posters of Bollywood film Sooryavanshi, outside a cinema in Mumbai, India, November 5, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas | Photo Credit: FRANCIS MASCARENHAS
Despite lacklustre innings by big Hindi releases, box-office collection nationwide in the first eight months of 2022 has already crossed the ₹2,299-crore mark compared to ₹917 crore and ₹717 crore in 2021 and 2020, respectively.
While Bollywood shows some recovery from the pandemic years, there is still some distance away to catch up with the 2019 collection of ₹5,200 crore. This is according to the data provided by the State Bank of India in their August Ecowrap on Friday.
The report also notes that the reason behind Bollywood repeatedly losing out to South cinema in terms of box-office collection ranges from poor content, the decline in single-screen theatres, entertainment tax on Hindi movies, differences in demographics and the rise of digital streaming platforms.
Tracking the evolution of cinema during Covid year, SBI notes that the world is witnessing a change in consumer behaviour for cinemagoers who spent the last two years in lockdown. On an optimistic note, SBI also observes, “a shift in human behaviour that could hold the aces for movies going forward. This shift in human behaviour reminds us of the power of human civilisation to embrace the past but aligned to future.”
Statistics clearly indicate that content quality for Bollywood movies released lately has declined. According to the SBI report, the average IMDB rating for the 43 Bollywood movies released since January 2021 was just 5.9, way below the 7.3 rating of 18 Hindi dubbed movies.
While content quality does not directly correlate to the popularity of the movie, “A simple regression exercise indicates that an extra one point IMDB rating leads to ₹17 crore more collections,” the report noted.
Another reason behind poor collections is that dreading lacklustre collections, Bollywood is also releasing fewer movies since 2021. “In the pre-pandemic world, on an average 70-80 movies were released per year in the Hindi language with the collection ranging ₹3,000-5,500 crore,” noted SBI.
“However, since January 2021, a total of 61 movies have been released in Hindi language (Original + South/English dubbed in Hindi) till August 11, 2022,” the SBI report explained. The collection for the 61 movies is a mere ₹3,200 crore.
According to the report, the rise of multiplexes over single-screen cinema halls has also deeply inflated the cost of tickets, discouraging movie-goers. Interestingly, the concentration of single screens is far higher in the South. The report indicates that this could be a contributing factor to South cinema, performing substantially better than Hindi movies.
The SBI report also said the high entertainment tax on Hindi movies is also inflating ticket prices. The report also indicates that demographics also favour the South, which has a higher concentration of older cinema-goers, while the population of millennials is higher in the North. Millennials are more inclined to watch movies on OTT platforms, while elderly cinema-goers still prefer to watch movies on the big screen.
As OTT platforms for streaming rise exponentially, a trend which was bolstered by the pandemic, the report notes that development of content for OTT should be a natural shift creators now.
“According to various industry estimates, nearly 40-45 per cent of the lifetime box-office collections of hit Bollywood films used to come from non-multiplex zones in India. Thus, with the declining share of single-screen theatres and South Indian movies taking a larger share through dubbed versions, Bollywood film-makers should rethink their content and distribution strategy. But who knows, one blockbuster could again set the cash ringing at box office,” noted the report.
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