AskIndicine: Live Now

The last few months have been depressing for the film industry and the trade. Apart from ‘Hindi Medium’ and a couple of other smaller films, almost all medium to big budget films have failed miserably. Not only are films not performing in the long run, but most films with star-value aren’t even getting decent starts on Friday morning. The lack of interest in Hindi films is becoming evident with shows on the opening day getting cancelled due to lack of audience. 

With the industry desperately in need of a few box office hits, we await the release of Anees Bazmee’s ‘Mubarakan’ this coming week, followed by two major films featuring two of the biggest stars in the industry – Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ and Akshay Kumar’s ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’.

We begin this week’s AskIndicine QnA at 4PM today. Post your questions in the comments section below (Update: Live now)

Q. The leaked news of ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ is true or false according to your view and sources or is it only a publicity stunt?

A. Well, we hope it’s not a publicity stunt. If they had to do something like this for publicity, they would’ve done it closer to the release of the film. We’ve spoken to someone close to the film, he confirmed that a copy of the film was leaked through a USB Pen Drive, but it wasn’t uploaded to the internet.

Q. What will be impact of this leak incident on ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ . How will it affect its LBO and FBO?

A. Since it isn’t out on the internet and we do not know of anyone who has watched the pirated copy of the film, it shouldn’t affect the FBO or LBO. It would’ve been disastrous – almost to the level of Great Grand Masti – if a copy was out on the internet so early. Thankfully, there is none.

Q. Will Munna Michael be able to beat A Flying Jatt in final run?

A. The collections of the two films will be similar. Our final LBO prediction for the film is 33 crore, which is in the same range as A Flying Jatt. Both are flop films, unless there’s a miraculously good hold for Munna Michael on Monday.

Q. With disastrous opening of films and regional films performing, is it important to concentrate on content than over promotions, weird marketing . Is Bollywood too arrogant to accept the defeat?

A. One regional film working, doesn’t mean South films have Pan-India market now. Hollywood and other sources of entertainment like Netflix, Amazon Video are far bigger threats. As for marketing campaigns, it’s become way too boring now. Pointless exercise. Every week we see stars on television, talking about everything else except the film. Even celebrity interviews have become boring, there’s very little thought given to make the film (that’s releasing) look interesting. City tours are mainly to reach out to the local media. But none of this is converting into ticket sales. On the other hand, we have interesting looking films that aren’t promoted that are working well. ‘Bahubali 2’ wasn’t promoted at all, it took the biggest start of all time. Even the first film did extraordinarily well due to word-of-mouth. ‘Hindi Medium’ didn’t have a major campaign, it was postponed at the last minute and it clashed against ‘Half Girlfriend’. Yet it did well against all odds. Same for ‘Dangal’, outstanding opening and record-breaking lifetime total. It really wouldn’t make much difference to stars like Salman or Shah Rukh if they don’t go all out to promote films. But it seems to be a case of doing everything to give the film the best possible chance of doing well on the first day – whether it really makes any difference whatsoever to ticket sales, doesn’t seem to be the concern. But a lot of money that can instead be invested on making new films, is getting wasted in 6/7 week long promotional campaigns.

Q. With JHMS grabbing eyeballs now, will SRK be able to give a mind boggling start, given that his films aren’t performing in the long run and none of the films getting an average opening also?

A. His films aren’t performing in the long run because they aren’t finding appreciation. The major drop from weekend to weekdays is because of heavy corporate bookings that he gets in the first weekend. So as soon as a film is liked, like Chennai Express for example, he will get those big lifetime totals. But it’s a matter of the film appealing to a wide section of audience and finding all India appreciation. While Jab Harry Met Sejal trailer has received a fairly positive response, we don’t think it’ll appeal to the audience outside the Top 10/15 cities. It’s certainly not a Raees, which was a easy 25+ opening if it released solo.

Q. Will Tubelight’s underperformance affect Tiger Zinda Hain’s opening?

A. No, it won’t. For big stars, one or two films failing is never a cause for concern. It’s only when films consistently fail and disappoint the audience, does the fan-following begin to dwindle. Infact, we think Tubelight’s poor performance could end up helping Tiger Zinda Hai because a lot of Salman fans didn’t watch his film during Eid. They would surely want to Tiger Zinda Hai. It’s the kind of films that his fans like to watch and it had a good release period too.

Q. What will the Indian producers of Dangal make from the China business? Is it true that the bollywood producers make a very basic amount from China business of the films? If true, then would Aamir Khan movie producers be able at all to make more investments in his films with the belief of extra returns from China?

A. The producers of Dangal did not earn much. The rights were sold to Chinese distributors. But a film like Dangal has significantly increased his market in China, his next few films will fetch better returns.

Q. Will Jab Harry Met Sejal cross 300 crore if its accepted universally like RNBDJ after trailer JHMS looks commercial film even Bahubali 2 did 500 cr with out any holiday.

A. It’s unrealistic to expect such big numbers out of this film. Out and out romantic films do not have that sort of market. And even a Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, in today’s times, would’ve collected around 200 crore with average ticket price adjusted to the footfalls it got in 2009. SRK’s film with Aanand L Rai should have a better chance of putting up big numbers.

Q. Will a 50% opening on a Friday morning be considered as good for Jab Harry met Sejal and Toilet – Ek Pr Katha keeping in mind that both are releasing on a non holiday and also amidst a lot of competition?

A. A 50% average opening across the country would be considered very good for a film like ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’. ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ is likely to open well below 50%. But we’ll have to wait to see how it goes on the Friday of release. Box office has become extremely unpredictable this year.

Q. After Bahubali 2.. every movie has failed. Is Baahubali affecting Bollywood. Everybody knows that not everyone can make Bahubali..

A. It probably has. It could also be the ever increasing entertainment options that we have today. On Netflix or Amazon Video, an entire family can watch films / series and superior content for the price of one multiplex ticket – for the entire month! Mediocre films are being swept aside and the audience is simply not interested in most films unless they are really deserving the price of the ticket (like Hindi Medium). The age of even that small section of audience that would watch every film in theatre every week is reducing with each passing year. We do not even have the universally appealing content anymore, masses have been ignored for way too long. A quick look at the opening numbers in the last three month is scary to say the least. A Raabta is opening below the 5 crore mark, a big film like Tubelight didn’t even get a good initial, Munna Michael has opened lower than Tiger’s debut film even though it had a successful actor-director combo. The industry needs big films with scale.

Q. How is the initial response to the theatrical trailer of Jab Harry Met Sejal amongst the trade and the general movie going audience?

A. The response is good, but it was the trailer that should’ve come first. Ideally, attached to the print of ‘Tubelight’ – because that’s connecting directly with the target audience. Instead, they put out the mini trails, which didn’t generate the kind of interest that it should. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes when the film eventually releases in a couple of weeks. The response so far is nowhere close to Raees, that was at a different level altogether. A 20 crore+ start from here for Jab Harry Met Sejal would mean the credit would go almost entirely to SRK’s pull. But at this point in time, it’s looking like it’ll fall short.

Q. Don’t you think Hindi filmmakers should now be tight on budget, if they are making a film for niche audience because the recovery is dependent on 5-6 odd metros ?

A. Economics is what fails films, even some good films like the recently released ‘MOM’ for example. If ‘Lipstick In My Burkha’ works, it’s going to be because of its low costs. When films like ‘Rangoon’ are made on 60-70 crore budget, it’s a flop before release. There’s no way an off-beat Shahid Kapoor film can collect 100 crore, even his commercial films have maxed out at 70 crore. Even the money spent on the extravagant marketing wasn’t recovered from theatrical business. It’s a sad state. Things need to change quickly for the industry to survive. Content should improve and money should be spent wisely. Easier said than done though. Nothing has changed in the last 2-3 years, even though footfalls in theatres have dropped by around 10% every year.

Q. As of now, how is the buzz of both Jab Harry met Sejal and Toilet – Ek Prem Katha? Can Jab Harry met Sejal get 4000 screens?

A. A tighter release of around 3500 screens would probably be a better idea for Jab Harry Met Sejal because it’s unlikely to hold appeal at single-screen theatres. It’ll be a multiplex-heavy film. Interest for JHMS is picking up, Toilet: EPK has died down in the last couple of weeks.

Q. You guys ever feel hurt or feel bad when people accuse the site of being partial towards one star. I myself have bashed you sometimes on you not giving Raees it’s due credit and would want to apologise do for that. But just wanted to know the site’s perspective when Fans go into crazy mode and start bashing the site.

A. We have to keep things balanced around here and be opinionated because that’s what our readers like. And our readers here are more important to us than the stars themselves. In today’s film journalism, very few do that. It’s all about praising stars and hyping everything they do. Just a few days ago in a video interview, Shah Rukh Khan said a few websites gave a warning that if the trailer of JHMS is not released now, the film would not do well. He also asked websites to mind their own business. But the point here is, we try to be constructive with our criticism, which unfortunately does not have any value in today’s times. We even faced tremendous pressure to pull down the ‘Tubelight Teaser Response‘ article, the PR team and also the fans did not like it, just because we said the response isn’t positive. It’s different after release, everyone agrees now. As for criticism from readers like you, we are used to it now. You are free to have your opinion, just like we have ours. Read and feel free to agree or disagree.

Q. The buzz & hype for Jab Harry Met Sejal is going uphill or downhill?

A. Certainly increasing.

Q. Why weren’t you conducting askIndicine for the last 2 weeks?

A. Because there wasn’t much happening in the industry. All films were failing. Our answers would get repetitive. Now that the trailer of JHMS has released and a few big films are coming up, there’s more to write about.

Q. Is Sabbir Khan directing Dabbang 3?

A. No.

Q. What is your take on Karan Johar – Kangna Ranaut nepotism debate?

A. No opinion on this. There’s too much noise and talk. Where are the good films? Nepotism or not, not a single film from this industry is working.

Q. Can Tiger Shroff sustain in the industry if he keeps doing a repetitive genre of films. Do you think he has the acting chops to experiment?

A. It’s not looking good for him at the moment. A film like Munna Michael was always waiting to happen. He can’t go on forever doing the same things in film after film. One film was bound to fail and it has. He needs to reinvent himself. Multiplex audience is very important in today’s times. The key for actors is to strike the right balance. Munna Michael promos looked too dull. There was hardly any action and music did not work. When these two things are missing, even the masses don’t come in big enough numbers.

Q. Most awaited movie of 2018 as of now? What are the expectation from Thugs of Hindostan in trade and industries, and how is the buzz for that film?

A. By some distance, Thugs Of Hindostan. Followed by Robot 2.0 and SRK film with Aanand L Rai. Expectations are always high from Aamir Khan films and ToH will be no different. It’s a massive film, both scale / budget wise and also the star cast.

Q. What are the total collections and verdicts of Hindi Medium, Bahubali 2, Sachin : A Billion Dreams and Tubelight ?

A. Hindi Medium, 69 crore, Hit. Bahubali 2, 511 crore, All Time Blockbuster. Tubelight, 121 crore, Flop.

Q. Can you please explain what are corporate bookings?

A. Working out deals with companies to block (bulk) book tickets for their employees. It does happen for big films. The brands that stars endorse, partial event presence fee in the form of ticket booking etc.

Q. Will Jagga Jasoos affect ranbir? What is his stardom status ? Have Varun and Ranveer overtaken him in young generation?

A. Ranbir in the right film is bigger than the other stars in the below 35 age group. Every failure affects actors, so the poor performance of Jagga Jasoos will affect him. Varun comes next, after Ranbir.

Q. After massive failure of Jagga Jasoos, questions have been raised again about movies being made for only multiplex audience and the disconnect between critics and audience.. What are your thoughts on this..? I personally believe that Jagga Jasoos was for everyone, a thorough fun entertainer but people in india are too konjoos for this jasoos..They only want to spend money on films that will have big stars doing action and romance while films like Jagga end up topping the movie torrents all over the country…The amount of people that have watched the movie are at least 3 times more the current collections..

A. Piracy is ruining the industry, but what explains a film like Hindi Medium collecting more than Jagga Jasoos? It wasn’t even a big screen experience. The audience is always there for films as long as it’s entertaining. Jagga Jasoos the response was extreme. A few loved the film, many others found it unbearable. Collections were bound to come down on Monday because of drop in ticket prices – as the film was only performing at metro cities.

Q. How big was Gadar amongst the all time blockbusters? I remember having never ever seen such euphoria around a film, with hundreds of people queuing up several hours before, at times at 2am for the day’s shows and the frenzy inside the theatres. The film seemed to have gripped the whole nation and its collections remained very stable for 9-10 weeks. It also comfortably beat competition from Lagaan. But today, when most of the media speak about biggest blockbusters, they usually mention Sholay, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hain etc.. but few mention Gadar when it most probably ranks amongst the biggest ones and when it is even bigger than most blockbusters. Where would you rank Gadar in Indian BO history? And why do you think the media these days tend to ignore the magnitude of such a huge blockbuster?

A. Gadar was one of those films that came before the multiplex and it was humongous. The nation-wide fever of a ‘Gadar’ will probably never be witnessed ever again, atleast not in the North. And this is not just because of hype or interest to watch the film, but queueing up outside theatres was a norm in those days. These days due to internet advance booking, the queues at multiplexes are short. The buzz, anticipation and excitement outside a movie hall isn’t what it used to be. Let’s not talk about mainstream media when it comes to films and business. What works for the media, critics or film journalists doesn’t work for the audience. Raja Hindustani also doesn’t get enough credit, even though it was a major box office success.

That ends the QnA for today. We are starting a new section this week on the website where each question will have a separate page, which we can update on non-Sundays too.  Thank you for joining us today.

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