Bollywood films failed to recoup their investments in the past two quarters

New Delhi, June 22 (IANS): Over the past two quarters, very few Bollywood films have managed to ring in the coffers. Only three films – “The Kashmir Files”, “Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2” and “Suryavanshi” – managed to recoup their investments, Emkay Global Financial Services said in a report.

The recent underperformance contrasts sharply with the pre-Covid era in which 35-40% were able to cover production costs from theatrical release.

The performance of Bollywood films has been clearly disappointing recently, with several medium to high budget films failing to leave a mark at the box office. On the other hand, regional (Southern) films have been successful in attracting audiences to theaters, according to the report.

Bollywood has always been the mainstay in the sustainable management of overall box office revenue. Before Covid, it contributed 60% of total box office receipts. Bollywood films were also the top-grossing films in 11 of the 16 pre-Covid quarters.

However, in the post-pandemic era, the overall contribution has declined significantly as Bollywood films have failed to attract audiences, Emkay Global said.

The recent underperformance of Bollywood movies raises a relevant question: is it just low content or are there other external factors like social media angst, emergence of OTT or any other thing at work? In the case of the second factor, the impact is more likely to be long-term and can potentially reduce the long-term revenues of movie theater operators. However, we believe content is the missing factor given that most films released after Covid did not receive positive reviews from critics initially, resulting in low box office collections. Several big-budget films, including the recently released Samrat Prithivraj, received low to mixed reviews. In our opinion, this is one of the main reasons for the weak collections at the box office, said Emkay Global.

Reduce the influence of superstars; content is king, according to the report. In the past, big stars have managed to attract massive audiences to theaters given their strong heritage. However, changing audience preferences mean that content is now the primary focus. These highly touted superstars are no longer able to attract audiences based solely on their brand names (YouTube trailer views also prove this structural shift). Smaller films with a relatively lesser-known star cast but stronger content were able to attract audiences, while several big names saw their film’s box office collections erode.

While several Bollywood films have failed at the box office in the past two quarters, we note that the number of Bollywood film releases was also well below pre-Covid levels. The number of Bollywood film releases, which previously tied with the number of Tamil and Telugu films in 2019, fell behind its regional counterparts in 2021.

Bollywood’s importance to box office revenue can be gauged by the fact that on average it contributed 60% of all revenue in the 16 quarters before the pandemic. Bollywood films were also the top-grossing films in 11 of the 16 pre-Covid quarters. However, over the past two quarters, the performance of Bollywood films has declined, with only three films providing a strong box office show. This leaves Bollywood’s percentage of hit films at a measly 10% from the pre-Covid level of 35-40%.

Historically, Bollywood movies have seen decent collections even when the content was low given the high popularity of superstars. This seems to have changed over time, with content now being the primary driver. Most movies released in the last 2-3 quarters have been mixed with negative reviews, indicating that weak content is the main contributor to the poor performance.

Also in the past, there have been instances where Bollywood underperformed for a few quarters before bouncing back, leading us to believe it would be repeated this time as well. The continued disappointment of Bollywood content would delay the recovery of advertising revenue for multiplexes, Emkay Global said.