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Its been a tough year at the box office, especially for Bollywood with big guns like Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn and even Salman Khan failing to deliver the good in the first nine months. The last quarter of the calendar however may be looking up for the industry. The quarter started on a good note with the Judwaa 2, which released on the last Friday of September continuing its good run. This also helped make up for the failure of Saif Ali Khan starrer Chef. While Judwaa 2 held fort in the initial weeks of October, Diwali releases such as Golmaal Again and Secret Superstar opened to positive reviews and word of mouth. Both the films have done well commercially and are expected to continue doing well for a week more at least. “While Golmaal Again cashed in on, and also delivered on, the franchise promise, Secret Superstar provided variety at the cinema. Unlike other times when two movies releasing together have competed with each other, this time, both occupied their niche and played to their target audiences. As a result, the Diwali weekend saw close to Rs 110 crore in box office collections,” says a trade analyst. Golmaal Again, the fourth in the Rohit Shetty-directed Golmaal franchise has made Rs 194 crore till date (first 18 days) net after tax (net) while Secret Superstar (which opened a day earlier) has made Rs 59 crore till date. Both the movies are expected to recover costs and book profits once their lifetime run is over at the box office. Red Chillies’ and Dharma Productions’ joint venture Ittefaq starring Sonakshi Sinha, Akshaye Khanna and Siddharth Malhotra has also opened to good reviews, with Rs 20 crore collections in the first four days, and is expected to make profit as well. “This quarter has definitely been the best this calendar year. The April quarter was a great one too because of Baahubali 2. But this time, more significantly, its not because of one or two films that the audiences have flocked the theatres. Different content has resonated and been accepted which is always good because it means longevity of healthy footfalls,” says Devang Sampat, head of strategy for India Operations, Cinepolis. Baahubali 2: The Conclusion released on April 28 and the Hindi dubbed version alone grossed close to Rs 500 crore.
Other profitable releases this year include Hindi Medium (Rs 69 crore), Badrinath Ki Dulhania (Rs 116 crore), Jolly LLB 2 (Rs 117 crore), Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (Rs 134 crore) and Lipstick Under My Burkha (Rs 18 crore). “However, only Baahubali 2 added significant collections to the box office topline.Golmaal Again is expected to cross the Rs 200 crore mark soon and it’s a welcome development,” adds the analyst. Even compared to last year, this festive quarter has been much better, mainly because it is not reeling from the immediate impact of demonatisation that happened on November 8 last year. Exhibitors say that the average occupancy rates this quarter are expected to be 15 per cent more than the first nine months. While October saw festival weekend releases November has two big ticket Hollywood movies, both superhero franchises. November 3 saw the release of Thor: Ragnorak. The third in the Thor franchise from the Marv el Cinematic Universe, the movie opened to positive reviews worldwide, including India, and has netted Rs 31.7 crore in box office collections till date. It is expected to collect at least Rs 10 crore more over the next weekend. In the third week of November, Warner Bros will be releasing their DC Extended Universe film Justice League which is among the most anticipated films of the year as well. “Hollywood films have done well in general and more so with superhero franchise films. I think the bigger picture is that content in this quarter has done well. Once you dub a Hollywood film, people come and see it, no matter the star cast. Similarly with Bollywood films. The acceptance of a Secret Superstar has once again proven that the star cast matters less and less every year,” Sampat adds. Going forward, distributors and exhibitors are optimistic about the December releases as well. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati hits the cinemas on December 1 followed by Yash Raj Films' Tiger Zinda Hai, the sequel to 2012’s super hit Ek Tha Tiger, on the Christmas weekend. Hollywood will also have a release in the form of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.