Dispelling the notion that Bollywood cinema had struggled this year until the advent of the Salman Khan-Anushka Sharma juggernaut Sultan, exhibitors say the overall box office in India was very healthy in the first six months.
Industry-wide receipts shot up by double-digits, driven both by a surge in admissions and a rise in the average ticket price. “Indian as well as Hollywood films performed well and grew in the first half this year, with Hollywood performing a little better,” Kamal Gianchandani, CEO of PVR Cinemas, the country’s biggest circuit, tells Forbes.
”The remaining six months of the year look to be very strong. Sultan started with a big bang, shattering all previous weekend/ extended weekend records at a furious pace. We are well poised for a strong 2016.”
Fox Star India CEO Vijay Singh concurs, “ The first half of 2016 has been good for both Bollywood and Hollywood and both have seen underlying growth . More importantly, audiences have reinforced their mandate for fresh, differentiated content.”
The top Hindi titles were Airlift with 127.80 crore ($19.2 million), Housefull 3’s 107.70 crore ($16.1 million), Fan’s 85 crore ($12.7 million), Baaghi’s 76 crore ($11.4 million) and Neerja’s 75.61 core ($11.3 million). Koimo.com rated Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan as a loss, observing, “The first half of the year hasn’t been great with only three films turning out to be major grossers.”
And then came Yash Raj Films’ Sultan, which launched on July 6 and rang up an unprecedented 208.92 crore ($31.4 million) in seven days, beating the previous high, Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s 183.52 crore ($27.5 million) last year. In the rest of the world the drama has amassed an estimated 100 crore ($15 million), including $4 million in the U.S. and P21.35 crore ($2 million) in Pakistan.
The $13 million film written and directed by Ali Abbas Zafar now ranks as the third biggest hit of Salman Khan’s career in India, overtaking Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’s 207.40 crore ($30.2 million) last year. It’s poised to race past Kick’s 233 crore ($35 million) in 2014 and will probably surpass Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s 320.34 crore ($48.15 million). Beyond that, it may challenge the all-time record earner in India, director Rajkumar Hirani’s PK, which minted 339.5 crore ($51 million) in 2014.