Bollywoodhungama, because they are the best in the world, have posted a summary of the 1st quarter 2016 box office totals. And the picture is pretty clear: Major Male Stars still run the world.
So, if you follow the link and look at the list, you will see that it goes more or less “Airlift Airlift Airlift Kapoor and Sons Airlift Airlift Airlift Neerja Neerja Neerja Airlift Airlift Airlift Batman vs Superman (Fitoor)”
Airlift won basically everything. Except for the special categories of “Female Lead Picture” and “Biggest Growth Over Time”, which went to Neerja; “Biggest Overseas Box Office” went to Kapoor and Sons; “Biggest Non-Indian Hit” went to Batman vs Superman; and “Biggest Flop of All Time Oh My God This is So Embarrassing” went to Fitoor.
Specifically, the record Neerja got (in addition to “Female Lead”, but that feels kind of fake; what was she competing with, Jai Gangajaal? And nothing else in an entire 3 month period?) was the “Highest Opening to Lifetime Multiple” records. Opening day, opening weekend, and opening week, that all went to Neerja. What that means (I think), is that Neerja had the greatest increase between it’s opening weekend to it’s lifetime collections. Opening weekend is mostly driven by number of screens and amount of pre-release publicity, while later weekends are based on proven per-screen ticket collection success and word of mouth (which is much harder to earn). Neerja‘s phenomenal run probably means that if it had been given the same kind of release as Airlift, it would have broken Airlift‘s records handily. But of course it wasn’t given that kind of release, because the distributors were too blind to see that a strong female lead film could actually be a hit on its own merits. As happens consistently.
What’s even more frustrating is that Fitoor is right there next to it, the biggest flop in the history of the industry (cost 70 crore, profit 40 crore= loss of 30 crore, biggest ever). Fitoor, which was given a ton of money and promotion based on the big name director and the rising male star lead and well known female lead heroine. Only, the script was terrible, and the director did not do his best, and the actors were way out of their depths, so it flopped. Well, that’s really on the studio. Studios: Stop making stupid movies because you think the director can save them! And stop hiring nobodies because they are cheaper and easier to work with! There’s a reason stars are stars! Any Khan, or even Hrithik or Ranveer, would have taken a look at that Fitoor script and insisted on a massive re-write before they agreed to be in it. Heck, maybe they did and that’s why it ended up with Aditya Roy Kapoor! (side-note: my Fitoor summary post is actually one of the most popular things I have ever posted, getting consistent traffic. I think because no one could figure out the ending/a lot of people walked out halfway through and just want to know how it ends)
Speaking of studios, they should also check out the comparisons between Kapoor and Sons and Airlift. Airlift swept all the India box office records for 2016. Kapoor and Sons took most of the overseas records. Only, when you add together the overseas and the India box office, Airlift made way more in total than Kapoor and Sons. So, studios: Pay attention to this! Stop making movies that play better overseas than at home, you make more money from the India box office than you do overseas.
Of course, Indian studios can afford to be stupid, because look at poor sad little Batman vs Superman! It’s the biggest dent Hollywood has been able to make in the Indian box office, and it didn’t even make as much as Fitoor! India continues to own its market in a way few other countries can. Well, India as a whole, not necessarily Hindi films. The Hindi industry shouldn’t be looking over their shoulders at Hollywood productions, they should be worried about their competitors at home. Airlift has all those Global records only because this list isn’t taking regional films into account. Remember, it’s now #4 in Australia Box Office for 2016, behind THREE Punjabi films.
But the biggest take away is that a film with Akshay Kumar made way more money than anything else that came out. It’s not even close. Studios may try to use visionary directors like UTV did for Fitoor, or a really excellent script like Dharma had in Kapoor and Sons. They may make a well-nigh perfect picture, like Neerja. But ultimately, any film with any of the major male stars (Akshay, Ajay, Hrithik, 3 Khans, and sometimes Saif) is going to easily best all competitors.
And this isn’t just because of name recognition and the willingness of theaters to give up screens. It’s because Akshay, etc. are very very experienced in the film industry. And very very good businessmen. They are going to do whatever it takes to make their films a hit, whether that is massive inventive promotional binges, or forcing script re-writes and film re-edits, or insisting on location shooting, or better stunts, or picking their own choreographers and composers, whatever is necessary, they will do it. And that’s why Fitoor had the entire Disney/UTV company behind it, a brilliant director, and a massive distribution through out the world, and it still flopped; while Airlift was the first film of a fledgling company, and the first major film for its director, and it still set records.