If one had to look at 2017 at the movies, one sees a mix of trends – while some biggies have brought in big numbers, some small gems shined and how! Films like ‘Bahubali 2’, ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, ‘Golmaal Again’, ‘Judwaa 2’ and lastly of course, ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’, proved that the Indian audiences haven’t really got tired of the quintessential massy films. On the other hand, the youth is ready to welcome fresh, off-beat content in the form of ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, ‘Newton’, ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’. While we do have something to be happy about, one can’t deny the fact that it’s not possibly been the best year as far as profits and returns are concerned. There’s a fall in the number of audiences going to the theatres. The reason could be the advent of digital content, or the high ticket pricing or lack of better content – but one of the things that comes to notice in 2017 is the fact that our audiences aren’t coming to the theatres as much. This and much more…as we talk about the trends of 2017 and have industry insiders sum up the year for us. Read on…

Quintessential, larger-than-life Hindi cinema continues to charm people

The year gone by, proved that the audience is up for entertainment and mostly, entertainment which comes with a great cinematic experiences. ‘Bahubali 2’ amidst some more films are testaments to the fact. We realise that only a theatre visit will do justice to a franchise like ‘Bahubali’ and the experience it promises. Similarly, family entertainers like ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, ‘Golmaal Again’, ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’, provided wholesome entertainment with song-dance-fun and all of that. There was a time in between when many started dissing our quintessential masala Hindi films, but 2017 proved that the audiences aren’t really done with this genre. Perhaps, this year, one might see more of those and the success of these bigwigs further helps the industry on the whole.

The year of sequels

Last year we thought that sequels have lost their charm, but no! Turns out, this year has been a year of sequels and franchise films and most of them have worked well. Starting with ‘Jolly LLB 2’, we had ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, ‘Baahubali 2: The Conclusion’, ‘Judwa 2’, ‘Golmaal Again’, ‘Fukrey Returns’ and ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’. All of these sequels have done very well. They met the expectations of the audiences and further worked their charm. Sequels and franchise films with a certain popularity and recall value among the audience, definitely can do wonders; provided they live up to the brand and bring in great content always. Most of these big sequels this year made a mark.

Small wonders

Just like every year, some small films did wonders! These were like a breath of fresh air that further relives our faith in the fact that good content works. Be it ‘Hindi Medium’, ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’, ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan’, ‘Newton’ or ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’. All these films worked when it came to providing return on investments. Each of these films set a benchmark in their own way and gave further confidence to writers and film-makers to come up with newer subjects and stories. Perhaps, this year proved that writers and film-makers have shown immense guts to bring up subjects that one couldn’t think of earlier. The concept of films like ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’, ‘Shubh Mangal Savdhaan’ or ‘Newton’ was as new as new gets and quite gutsy of the makers to venture into these. But one only waits for these small wonders each year and let’s just say, the more the merrier!

Digital content proving a threat to cinema halls?

Technology…is it a blessing or a boon? In 2017, digital content has flourished like never before and that’s one of the major highlights of the year. One just can’t miss that. Be it the number of web-series or the advent of Netflix and Amazon. Now Hindi films also see a digital release through these platforms which further poses a question that why would the audience go to the theatres and spend an exorbitant amount when he can watch great content at home at a much lower price at their own convenience? Having said that, digital is the future, and it’s great if some sort of synergy could be created, and it only motivates film-makers to create content which forces people to watch movies in cinema halls.

Overall, like we said, it’s not been the best year at the movies when it comes to the revenues.

But as always, we can only be hopeful that as an industry we create better content, or coming up with greater ideas or solutions for the problems existing at this point. Now let’s take a look at what industry insiders have to say about 2017 at the movies!

INDUSTRY OPINION

Ali-Abbas-Zafar

Ali Abbas Zafar, film-maker
I think, this year, the beauty of the work that has happened, is that they are all good stories; whether it is ‘Toilet’, ‘Tumhari Sullu’ or ‘Hindi Medium’, ‘Judwaa 2’ or ‘Golmaal’. Whether or not they had big stars, but the stories have somewhere worked with the audience. And I hope that trend will continue as because of that, we as film-makers will work harder to make films and entertain the audience.

Jayantilal Gada, CMD, Pen India Ltd.

2017, according to me, started on a good note with star-studded films like ‘Kaabil’ and ‘Raees’, though, after that, until ‘Tiger ZindaHai’, not many films have performed well. But Akshay Kumar always tries to bring something new, and this time again he gave us two films which got good numbers in the form of ‘Jolly LLB 2’ and ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’. The good part is that the audience has given a good chance to new content like ‘Hindi Medium’, ‘Mom’, ‘Shubh Mangal Savdhaan’, ‘Fukey Retuns’, ‘Tumhari Sulu’. And like always, comedy works so Varun also gets two good films in his hands in the form of ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ and ‘Judwaa 2’. Diwali had a big hit with ‘Golmaal Again’. So, overall, it’s not been the best year but it’s clear that the audiences have the time and money for good content, and they wouldn’t spend on movies with bad content.

Rahul Puri, MD, Mukta Arts

2017 was a mixed year for films. A number of films did very well and then there were a number of films which disappointed quite a lot at the box-office. It’s not been a good year, if you see in its entirety. The films that did well were all PAN India films, like ‘Bahubali 2’, ‘Golmaal Again’, ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, and at the end of the year, you have ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ which is breaking all sorts of records. But in between these very big films we have some low props that no films sort of ran, in between. Films that were catered to a certain urban audience, I don’t think a lot of them performed particularly well.

Abhishek Pathak, Producer-Distributor

If you see, ‘Shubh Mangal Savdhaan’, ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ have done very well on ROI. One of the best examples was ‘Fukrey Returns’. Also ‘Fukrey’ had a very good run with no film around it. But it had good entertainment so it worked. They came and with a little extra bulk. As far as big films are concerned, ‘Tiger ZindaHai’ worked, ‘Golmaal’ worked. These films will always be there because of family audiences, but the trend has completely changed to small-budget, good, entertaining, logical films. The film which did interestingly well was ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’. That film really pushed the envelope and got women to the theatres. There were a couple of mega films which didn’t work last year.

Vikram Bhatt, Writer-Producer-Director

We are at a watershed, we are at a cusp of a huge change. Digital content has come up in a big way in 2017 but I don’t think it’ll be competition to our movies. It’s not a full-fledged film, it’s just a 20 minute episode. Biggies like a ‘Bahubali 2’ or ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ will continue to do well in cinema halls for the theatre experience they have. Anyway, the film business has become about two weekends. So, I don’t think the digital medium is affecting films. The business of films is anyway dwindled down to 5 per cent or 10 per cent, in the third week. No producer is mad to cut his theatrical. Even Amazon, Netflix are about movies, but going forward in 2018, I feel, it’s going to be web-series which will be the future because I feel that Indian television has missed the bus on the youth.

Ravi Machhar, Saiyog Films 

‘Bahubali’ comes number one when it comes to the business. ‘Fukrey’ did well, all the small films did very well, except for ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ or Akshay Kumar’s films. 2017 was bad and now there are other streams that have started coming in. On Amazon, Netflix and your phone you can see a film, so we need to bring the audiences back to the theatres. The audience is not coming back because ticket pricing is so high in multiplexes, the cost of eatables is so high, they have to spend almost 1500-2000 bucks. For Rs.100 or 200, you can see every film on Netflix.

RAVI-MACCHAR

We have to find a solution. All the exhibitors, distributors need to find a solution. In south, the films run because there’s a price ban in multiplexes. In the south, you can’t charge more than Rs.200. And ten percent of the seats you have to keep at only Rs. 15. The number of audiences coming in is high. And still now, I wonder, what will happen when people will buy the films and it will be shown on the same day on your phones.Reliance Jio has reached almost 15 crore subscribers. And now they have Anil Ambani’s company also. If they have a scheme, the film will be released on the same day on your phone in Rs. 150 and let’s say, 50 per cent people subscribe to that. That comes to almost rs. 1200 crore per month which comes to 15,000 crore rupees per year. Our total Bollywood industry is 3400 crores. They will buy all the films, and we will give you on the first day of release. Every year, 15-20 per cent single screens are closing, because they can’t compete with multiplexes. In small cities like Aurangabad, only 3-4 multiplexes are needed, but there are 7 built. And now, a film like ‘TigeZindaHai’, shows start from 8 in the morning and what happens after a week, there’s no audience. The pricing has to go down. If we don’t cut down the pricing, we are not far from the day when cinema halls start closing. If Reliance Jio says they will show you the film on the same day, people will say, it’ll be good. And you can see it anytime. So, we have to have good content, we have to reduce the pricing. The industry is surviving only because of Netflix, Amazon and Satellite. Othewise, people cannot survive with just theatrical. You have to go with the technology and that’s coming up so fast. The business just has to be made in 4 days, and that too if it’s a good film with good content, larger-than-life film which cannot be seen on phone. People see movies on television and at home. The only cinema halls running in the future will be the ones running in entertainment centres or malls. This year is the worst year. There’s no growth, there’s de-growth. And when you go for the percentage of audience then we’re atleast 15-20 percent down from last year. We may be equal with the revenue but the percentage of the audience is down by 15-20 percent. Hopefully we’ll do better with many films coming in, otherwise more cinema halls will be closing, especially the single screens.

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