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!



  • Indicine why dont you publish articles on rajesh khanna dilip kumar dharmendra rishi kapur manojkumar dilipkumar rajkapur dev anand andmost wanted article ever onBIG B as many of us r not aware of their success will intresting how rajesh khanna dilip kumar big b rules the bollywood in their time…how much hits superhits flops bb atbb they given…i hope you have enough sources for that

  • Thanks indicene 4 giving us the idea of box office system would u plz verdict for FAN movie as the cop is less than that of usually srk starrer and great chance of all time blockbuster if it will collect at least 350cr

  • @hrithik,happy birth day,many happy returns of the day.THE GOD always bless you and live long and keep loving salman are a very good personality here….from a diehard SRKIAN.

    @indicine,nice article.

  • Salman’s film KICK is only film after PK which has made profits to Distributors and Exhibitors in 2014.
    KICK is the biggest Block busters of 2014 after PK.
    You are right in Happy New Year which got collected less than 200 crores. It figures are fudged. It should be Semi-Hit or HIT status.
    You are right in BANG BANG also. BANG BANG was costliest film and its figures also fudged like HNY.
    It should come in FLOP category.

    I have seen one thing. Your site always biased to SRK. Did SRK funds to ur sites?
    OR this is SRK site?

  • One question:

    Who has the right for satellite and music rights? Producers or distributors? If it depends on the deal, kindly let us know what normally happens: do the producer reserve the right for satelite and music?

    If producers have the right for these, the ditributor cost for Tevar would be rs60 crore, not 42 crore.

    Am I right?

  • Indicine, article was fine.

    But u havn’t included entertainment tax in all this collection that what should be the gross collection.

  • Ra One is still the most talked about as far as verdict goes.If you go by Tarans verdict all 6 Blockbusters of Salman are ATBB .So no point in considering him.BOI declared Ra One as a hit without giving any explanation.Trade expert like Komal Nahta has declared the film as just commision earner.Also trade sites like Addatoday has given complete break up and has declared the film as average.Eros has bought the film for 135 cr and theatrical share is max 90 cr including overseas.Satellite was 40 crs.That means if they dont recover atleast 100 crs they will be in loss.And who will believe they sold distribution to less than 90 crs??? And finally they came up with a UK Subsidy of 30 cr after the release.That so called subsidy was announced after the release of the film so how come the distributor price was lower even before the subsidy was announced???And to be frank the SUBSIDY never came after for any of the FUTURE biggies from bigger production houses like Yashraj.In short if you give a break up of Ra One it will be declared a commision earner or abv average.Just for the sake of the so called Hit streak of SRK Ra One is made out to be a hit.Billu too is comfortably called as a guest role while SRK handles the entire climax with lot of dance drama in between.

  • great article indicine :)
    also publish case study like tevar for every other big films before their release. that would be very interesting. so one can easily get 2 know whether film is hit flop or bb. thanku

  • A fine article, I must say!
    I had read that some actors take a percentage of boxoffice collections.. or entire territories for distribution.. how are these taken in overall collections ? Do these amounts go towards production cost ?

  • Great article….Had there been an authrorised body to control all these – counting collections, issuing verdict etc. it would have been really great for bollywood….different trade experts give different figures and different verdicts which is making all this look very disturbing…

  • @karthik agreed.Verdict and collection sometime very awful and it creates unnecessary controversy. There should be a specific center body to organise the thing better.

  • @sunil,south copy paste actor in no way shod have been give any importance compared to KING OF BOLLYWOOD.Everybody is great FAN of HIM so 1st teach your actor acting as after jai ho said just saved his career.

  • @sunil same thing ask for boi india…can salmir gave fund to show more collection of d3 & pk to boi…so just relax as these r the only 2 movies which boi numbers for some days are higher then prod fig…dont talk about that what u r not aware…

  • This was extremely helpful and well written. It was engaging and gave me a clear understanding of the film industry dynamics. The case study of Tevar is excellent and thought provoking.

  • Hi,

    Is there a time frame associated to declaration of HIT or FLOP. Let’s take two movies who need to make 80 crores including margins of profit. If one reaches that in a week and the other in 2 months. Are both a HIT?


Leave a Comment