Box Office India: What makes a film Hit, Flop, Super Hit or Blockbuster?

A lot of our readers wonder how a film that earns around Rs 60 crores, like an Action Jackson, is declared a ‘FLOP’ at the box office. On the other hand, a film like Hate Story 2 that earns just Rs 28 crores, is declared a ‘HIT’.

So how exactly are verdicts like HIT, Flop, Average, Super Hit or Blockbuster given to films?

There are a lot of points to consider before giving a theatrical verdict to a film.

1. The person who creates / packages the film is the called the ’PRODUCER’. He / she may create the entire project like hiring the director, actors, script-writers, technicians etc.

Examples of leading producers: Rakesh Roshan (FilmKraft Productions), Karan Johar (Dharma Productions), Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani (Excel Entertainment), Sajid Nadiadwala (Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment), Bhushan Kumar (T-Series) etc.

2. Once a film is ready for release, the producer may decide to sell the film to a ‘Corporate house’ or a ‘Individual distributor’. For example, Sajid Nadiadwala sold Salman Khan’s ‘Kick’ to UTV Motion Pictures; Excel Entertainment sold ‘Don 2’ to ‘Reliance Entertainment’.  Producers always sell it at a price higher than the ‘Cost of Production’ (which is known in the trade as COP). This ensures that the creative producers are safe in terms of the business of the project. To give our readers another example, the COP of Jai Ho was very less, but the film was sold for a much higher price to ‘Eros International’, which was the reason why the film was a failure at the box office. That’s the reason why we hear that the producers (in this case Sohail Khan) made his money, but the distributors (Eros) lost.

Examples of leading distributors

  • Yash Raj Films (Producers + Distributors)
  • Anil Thadani (AA films worldwide) – Movies distributed include Hate Story 2, Yaariyaan, Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania, Hasee toh Phasee, Dirty Picture, Ek Villain.
  • Eros Entertainment(Producers + Distributors) – Distributed films like Happy Ending, Jai Ho, Linga, Ram Leela, Tevar etc.
  • Reliance Entertainment (Producers + Distributors)   - Distributed Don2, Holiday, Singham, Bodyguard
  • Viacom18 (Producers + Distributors) – Distributed Mary Kom
  • Fox Star Studios (Producers + Distributors) – Distributed Bang Bang, My Name is Khan, Jolly LLB, City Lights

3. Once the distributor acquires the project at a premium, they might decide to sell different territories to sub-distributors. These sub-distributors then sell the film to theatre owners (exhibitors).

To understand the business of a film, we have to understand the cost involved at each step. Thus when we claim that a Tevar or Action Jackson have failed, even with reasonably good collections, the costs incurred at each step maybe higher.

Case Study of Arjun Kapoor’s Tevar

  • Boney Kapoor (Producer) invests about Rs 30-35 crore into the film
  • He then finds a buyer (Eros International) who buys the theatrical distribution rights for Rs 48 Crore.
  • Eros International (Distributor) then invests around Rs 12 crore to market (promote) the film.
  • Total costs of Tevar = Rs 60 crore
  • Estimated total revenue from other sources like Music, Satellite rights and Overseas is Rs 18 crore approx.
  • Total cost to recover from theatrical business is Rs 42 crore (Revenue from other sources i.e Rs 18 cr deducted from total costs of Rs 60 cr)

Now, the most important point. If a Distributor has to recover Rs 42 crore from theatrical business, then the film has to collect atleast around Rs 80-85 crore. The reason is, a share from the total collections also goes to the exhibitor (theatre owner). If Tevar collects around 50 crore at the box office, Eros International would only get around 25 crore.

Breakdown of Tevar (all figures are approximates to make it simple for our readers to understand)

  • Money to recover = Rs 42 crore.
  • Expected total collections from theatrical business = Rs 50 crore
  • Distributors Share that Eros International would get (Total recovery) = Rs 25 crore
  • Total Loss = Rs 17 crore

Reason for failure is the high price paid for Tevar by Eros International. If Boney Kapoor had sold the film for a lower price or released the film himself, Tevar would have been a success at the box office even if it collected around Rs 50 – 55 crore.

Finally, based on the costs and various other factors, we then give our box office verdicts to films. Taking the case study of Tevar, here is how much it had to collect to get different verdicts.

  • For Tevar to be a All Time Blockbuster – Rs 175 crore or more.
  • Blockbuster – Rs 140 crore or more
  • Super Hit - Rs 110 crore or higher
  • Hit – Rs 90 crore or higher
  • Average - Rs 70 crore
  • Flop – Anything less than Rs 60 crore

Note: There is no fixed formula for verdicts. In today’s times, trade analysts are a little more lenient when it comes to verdicts. With strict verdicts, Kick wouldn’t be a ‘Blockbuster’ as some distributors lost money (due to high costs). Bang Bang wouldn’t be a HIT and Happy New Year wouldn’t be a ‘Super Hit’.

Also, if a film does well in theatres, the distributor or producer may get a higher price through Satellite Rights, thus additional revenue is generated from other sources if it does well in theatres.

Every film that is released in theatres must be assessed this way to understand its business and final verdicts. Do share your thoughts in the comments section below. Questions can be posted too!



  • as a thumb rule is it fair to say that distributor share is 50-60% of total net collections?

    also overseas collections is the same as distributor share, correct?

  • Can’t blv my eyes…..watching Alka Yagnik’s live show in Nehru stadium.
    Also a few hours ago got autograph of Virender Sehwag on the occasion of 19th National youth festival going on at Guwahati.

  • rgv made shiva, raat, rangeela and satya dont forget. he was brilliant that time dnt judge his whole career by recent films. munna of rangeela was far better than funsukh of 3 idiots or pk of pk.

  • @indicine very nice article…..I love it…
    @nipun k3 overall collect according to boi 188 cr
    k3 budget was 115 cr not 125 cr and k3 distributor shares were 100 cr that’s why movie got blockbuster verdict even ett budget was 115 cr n collected 186 cr….film got blockbuster verdict…

  • Great article…loved reading it!!

    Cleared all doubts regarding the film business.

    @Sambudhha: So it’s not your Arjun Kapoor’s fault..It is basically his dad’s and Eros’s fault..
    See if a product is being made in just won’t look good,how can you expect it yield such higher amounts in return?? That too a masala film,which you know won’t get good reviews no matter how well you try to make it,coz it lack creativity..

    Tevar Debacle is nothing but a strategic lapse from Eros repeating the same mistake which they did with Jai Ho..
    Jai Ho’s productions costs were around 45crs,the film never looked high in production values..

  • @babaji I m not an excuse maker like some of u.if tevar flops I hv to accept that its content let it down instead of giving dozens of stupid excuses.

    arjun after delivering 75cr+ grossing hits in last year was expected to do that again and bcz it was a full on masala film the makers expected it to b his biggest hit.
    so u can’t blame them instead all the blame should go to content and bad music.

  • Great article.. I have been following box office figures for years now.. but not one site or trade analyst has been able to explain box office in such simple and easy to understand words.

    Thank you so much Indicine. God bless whoever has written the article :) :)

  • @indicine: Okay.
    @Salman da fan: BOI doesnt include regional collections . Even with 115 crores budget, it cann’t be a BB with 176cr only! BTW, I don’t care about that outdated site.

  • There is no point of discussing RA.1…..Even BOI declared it HIT….It made 125 crs all versions….And it earned 56 crs overseas….only a handful ditributors lost money (One region may be)…..Indicine please clarify this issue….plsssss.

  • good article but I have a doubt about revenues because according to other site say that tevar need a share 33-35 crore because overseas share, satelight, music rights and others total revenues around 25-27 crore so that means they need 70 crore domestic to recover cost and 80-90 crore business to declare the film a hit

  • indicine can you answer me how BABY rights sold to Rs 38 crore because in terms of production value and star cast its production budget will be around 50-60 crore

  • @ArjunFan The most funny thing i have heard today-Arjun delivered 2 75cr It was ranveer singh responsible for gunday. And in 2states , it was alia bhatt and chetan bhagat who ran away with all accollades. Arjun got Babaji ka thuLLU . Arjun Ranbir youngistani are here becoz of KAPoor surname. Waiting for BABY.

  • Great article…..keep it up….this is the thing which separate from other movie sites…..according to me all time blockbusters are those movies which business is extraordinarily higher than that period in 2006 multiplex era is started so movies with big star can earn 70 cr easily so 80+cr is not so extraordinary. …according to me Dabangg, ghajini, ce , even at some extent d3 dont deserves atbb status…since market capacity increased so much. Todays capacity for biggest blockbusters is 300 cr.which can achieve 1 or 2 movie with good wom so it shouldn’t be called atbb.
    pk will reach up to 340 cr but in 2015 there is chance atleast 2 movie will reach above 300 cr may be its bb, prdp, fan or raees… its close gap…..
    1) when hahk grossed 70+ cr average highest grossers are near 10-12 so it was atbb, even ddlj time only karan arjun was above 30cr apart from hahk
    2) even at the time of kkhh second highest grosser movie was half the collection of kkhh
    3) gadar broke record of hahk after 7 years market capacity was increased but business of gadar came from mostly single screens. .so footfall was nearly same with hahk
    4) ghajini broke records by 40% margin but market capacity was increased n ticket rates became much costly it was first movie which breached 100cr barrier so it was given atbb verdict which was hurried
    which is later proved by 3i
    5) rnbj, oso, d3, d2, ce, Dabangg, all are biggest blockbusters of years but they are not far from average capacity of business so according to me atbb verdict cant be given
    6) I am confuse with pk verdict since I am sure it will surpassed within 2 years.since ticket price…but it is not benefit of being first movie rea hing 340cr its atbb

  • @Indicine

    Earlier i used to search for articles regarding the behind the screen happenings. I have certain doubts regarding certain points as well as need some clarifications as well.


    “If Tevar collects around 50 crore at the box office, Eros International would only get around 25 crore.”

    I had read an article which, as far as I can remember, mentioned that theatre owners receive 15% starting from 1st week of a film and as the weeks pass by, the rate increases. My concern is that you guys kinda fixed the rate for 50%. Now I understand the increasing rate might balance it out resulting a 50% monetary outcome. The times have changed so I suppose the rules might change as well. Some clarifications.

    “Also, if a film does well in theatres, the distributor or producer may get a higher price through Satellite Rights, thus additional revenue…”

    If you can, I need you to be precise here. Some films sell their satellite rights before releasing their film while some may wait I suppose, considering your article. Now which party exactly receives the money? The distributor or the producer? Also consider both situations, i.e. revenue prior to release of film and after the release of the film. As this can be an influencing factor for a film being a hit/flop/etc.


    “Total cost to recover from theatrical business is Rs 42 crore (Revenue from other sources i.e Rs 18 cr deducted from total costs of Rs 60 cr)”

    Now considering your article, does selling the film to a distributor results in transferring the rights to sell the music and satellite rights to a distributor? As you have included the 18 crore revenue to the distributor, so that will have to mean producers earned nothing with these segments. From your article, I can only see the producers earning the additional source of revenue segments like music and overseas rights while selling to a distributor with certain clause regarding the concerned rights. So more explainations please. I will be highly suprised if producers are earning is limited to selling to a distributor.

    Again, I want to know that after selling the rights to a distributor, does the producers have any scope to earn from the theatrical screenings or the earnings are distributed between distributors and theatre owners at 50-50?

    And what is the distribution rights for PK? PK is distributed by UTV. With a budget of around 90 crores,I wonder how much VVC settled for as 320 nett is massive. What will be the money distribution method in this case?

    Will appreciate your response. Thanks!

  • @nipun, if boi is wrong then lets see ur points…..
    k3 collected 244cr thtz mean 125-130cr distributor share. According to u k3’s budget was 125cr. Now tell us how can u call 125cr budgeted movie an atbb with 125cr distributor shares??

  • @indicine will u make a article of verdict of upcoming movie when u knew a distributer cost of movie , how much movie earn to become average,hit,superhit,blockbuster,all time blockbuster. i want verfict info about upcoming movies eg:-baby .Thanks indicine

  • CORRECTION (in DOUBTS, 2nd paragraph) :

    “I will be highly surprised if producers earning is limited to selling to a distributor.”

  • @ajinkya it is bcz of morons like u that I sometimes do excessive criticism of akki and emmy.u ppl give no respect to us and try to lower our achievements by passing credit to others and even taking personal digs at us.and then if I retaliate u ppl start complaining how I hv no respect for seniors,I m irritating etc.

    if u want respect u need to give respect to others.anyways I no more care abour wat u morons write about us.carry on ur trash in every article if that gives u peace but remember one thing

    buraai chahe jitni bhi taqaatwar kyu na ho
    uska antim sanskar humesha achaai hi karti hai

  • Nice article indicine but there is a conspiracy inside B.Town…..not everyone were aware but after krrish 3 manipulated figures ppl have started raising questions…..also thanks to social media just cant hide anything from public.
    I guess ETT was the first movie that gave 100 cr profit to distributors.

  • indicine can you please post regards to how censor board works in india and how many movies were there that completely got banned…i heard there was a salman khan movie…released years ago but never got displayed on big screens and why PK was getting banned…everyone has freedom of speech/express and even in the movies they put a clear disclaimer.

  • I have 1 que more along with boi y dis site decrease the collection of any movie whenever they want.. Like they did with jthj, k3, hny, n many…. As k3’s 1st week fig 144cr bcm 128-124 or less, 2 nd week business of k3 48 bcm 44cr or less… One time thr fig reach 210cr they decreased it regularly very shamefully, other one they decrease hny 1st day coll. 44 to 40-36 or lesser but lifetime is same b4 they shown.. If they decrease dis crores then whr that crores adjusted…?? :D :p even cant believable as Ajay made his comment on dis issue, that they ds nt had evry single n small scrns details.. So u tell with whom we shud go n follow thr trade.. As every fan at time of thr stars release follows boc, koimoi, bh etc n after that they adjust site as thr cmfrt for show thr stars success.. As kick didnt broke record of ce which is 218cr n kick is 215 b happy srk fans for my dis info…. I cant say anything more i always follow producer fig.

  • @Indicine, I have been desperately waiting for the new BO star ranking list for so long. when will you post it??????????? please reply me!!!!!!

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