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Bollywood set for bumper box office collections in the second half of this year

The Hindi film industry is expected to post a more than 60% jump in revenues in the second half of this calendar year, overcoming its poor show in the first half, buoyed by a slew of big-ticket releases and several extended weekends in the coming months. Trade experts expect Bollywood to garner ₹1,400 crore in earnings in the six months through December compared to ₹850 crore in the first half. With multiple holiday weekends like Independence Day, Dussehra, Diwali and Christmas, there is high expectation from films such as Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chadha, Akshay Kumar’s Raksha Bandhan, Karan Johar’s Liger and Brahmastra, Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan-starrer Vikram Vedha, horror comedy Bhediya (Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon), Kartik Aaryan’s Shehzada and Cirkus directed by Rohit Shetty.

“The second half of the year should definitely be better than the first. Not only are many big Hindi films slated for release, we will also see multiple festive weekends. In contrast, the first six months saw very few big films releasing in the Hindi language,” said Rajendar Singh Jyala, chief programming officer at INOX Leisure Ltd.

Film trade analysts said Hindi movies released in the past few months such as Jersey, Runway 34, Jayeshbhai Jordaar and Anek were mid-sized titles with little spectacle value. That’s set to change in the second half with star-studded large-scale productions.

The industry may, however, still lag pre-covid collections of ₹4,000 crore in 2019 but could touch ₹2,200 crore by this year-end if the pandemic remains under control.

Devang Sampat, chief executive at Cinepolis India said the good news is as quality content has returned to cinemas across languages, so have audiences.

“Post the lifting of government restrictions, out of 12 weeks, we were above the 2019 average weekly admits for eight. Other metrics such as SPH (spend per head) have been showing an increasing trend and we have crossed pre-covid levels,” he said.

“Case in point has been the movie KGF: Chapter 2 for which we welcomed 2 million patrons. The movie with highest footfalls in 2019, a record year for the exhibition industry, was Uri: The Surgical Strike, which had 1.6 million footfalls. This is a clear indication that audiences are back,” said Sampat.

He added about 38 titles are set for release in the coming 26 weeks which have the potential to become blockbusters or mega-blockbusters.

Independent exhibitor Vishek Chauhan said the Rs. 10-15 crore opening-day numbers of films like Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, the only profit-making venture from Bollywood so far this year, do not help theatres enough given that they have to split revenues with producers. Bigger openers are required in the Hindi language to compete with Hollywood and south Indian blockbusters like Spider-Man: No Way Home that made Rs. 32.67 crore on its first day release last December or KGF: Chapter 2, that raked in Rs. 53.95 crore from its Hindi version alone this April.“A few films are looking promising but the industry cannot survive with just five to seven hits,” film distributor and exhibitor Sunny Khanna said referring to the need for more Hindi language money-spinners in the rest of the year to make up for lost time. Live Mint

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