Why Akshay Kumar-starrer BellBottom's Box Office Is a Good Sign for Bollywood
Is Akshay Kumar-starrer BellBottom's opening day box office collection alarming for producers?
Akshay Kumar's BellBottom is the first big budget Hindi film to hit theatres post the second lockdown. The film, which released on 19 August, opened at the box office with comparatively much lower numbers than expected. The expectations were Rs 3.5 crore to 4.5 crore, but it made only Rs 2.75 crore on day one. But the good news is that the Sunday box office figures doubled up to something between Rs 4.45 to 4.65 crore, taking the four-day total closer to the Rs 13 crore mark. The Monday numbers are said to be around Rs 2 crore.
However, do the day one figures ring alarm bells for producers who were hoping to follow BellBottom's path and release their films in theatres?
We spoke to some producers and exhibitors who gave us the real picture.
Producer Boney Kapoor, whose next big film Maidaan stars Ajay Devgn, says that the box office collection of BellBottom is not alarming but actually a good sign. According to the veteran Bollywood producer, "The fact is also that BellBottom collected over 4 crores on Sunday which is a good sign because most of the states are opening theatres with 50% capacity. So, Sunday being a holiday if the capacity was 100% perhaps the collection would have been more than four and half crores. It would have certainly been more because people have started coming that's the reason it has collected four and half crore, right?"
Kapoor says the main culprit is lack of awareness that theatres have opened up and that BellBottom is running in theatres.
See, first of all there has got to be an awareness. Earlier when a film used to release there used to be a lot of dhoom dhamaka, advertising on television, all of that. There is nothing on display now as far as promotions are concerned. So, because of word-of-mouth, second day collection was better than first day, third day was better than second day and fourth day was better than third day. This is something which I feel is very encouraging that the collection has not gone down it has only risen.Boney Kapoor, Producer
Kapoor, whose film Vakeel Saab released in theatres in Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh post the first lockdown boasted of first day collections over Rs 30 crore. So, Kapoor is sure that it's not that people don't want to go to cinemas but it's just lack of awareness. "Because this is the first film they also wanted to take it easy. Even they are testing the waters. Things don't happen overnight, no?" he adds.
Another person who gave us a similar insight was exhibitor and distributor Akshaye Rathi. According to him the rise in box office collections is a very positive sign.
"In the case of this film (BellBottom) it's not just the performance of the film or merits of the film that are resulting in the collections. It's also a whole process of creating awareness among moviegoers, that will take time."
In pre-pandemic times, when a Akshay Kumar film releases, the average opening day collections would be around Rs 10 to 11 crores. But an Akshay Kumar film before the pandemic would release in 3200 to 3500 screens. Compared to this, BellBottom released in 1500 screens and these screens are also functioning at 50% capacity. Add to this, in most of the states the night shows are not functional. So, in terms of access, the audience is down to one-fourth compared to what it used to be in the past. So, considering this, BellBottom's collections are not disappointing at all.Akshaye Rathi, Distributor and Exhibitor
After BellBottom, the next Hindi film to hit theatres on 27 August will be the mystery thriller Chehre starring Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi. There is still no word on the re-opening of film theatres in Maharashtra. For Hindi films, Maharashtra is a crucial market as it contributes 30-35% to box office revenue. Speaking to The Quint, the producer of Chehre Anand Pandit said,
Low first day collections of BellBottom does bother me. But, first I must congratulate Vashu Bhagnani and Akshay for showing the guts to be with the cinema exhibition circuit. I just think it's a matter of communication and matter of some time. People still don't know that theatres have opened up. Once they know adequately that theatres are open I am sure people will start coming in.Anand Pandit, Producer
Bellbottom maybe have not done the kind of numbers as expected out of an Akshay Kumar film, but it has done a much bigger job which is to open the gates of cinema halls for the patrons all over again. So films like BellBottom, Shang-Chi, maybe even Thalaivii will have to do the heavy lifting that will pave the way for more films for people to start coming into cinemas all over again. BellBottom is a movie that will be remembered for its contribution not maybe to the box office but to the industry, which is a much bigger cause.
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