'Inside The Box' is a series in which we will take a deeper-dive into the Box Office collections and web numbers of major films released across India.
The past week saw the release of not one but two 'mass' entertainers in the form of Milap Zaveri's Satyameva Jayate 2 and Mahesh Manjrekar's Antim: The Final Truth. One film, released on Thursday, was part of a franchise starring John Abraham, with its first edition being one of the highest-earning films of 2018. The other film boasted of star power – with Salman Khan having produced and acted in it. It was also the first relatively big clash of Hindi films after the pandemic. The Box Office collections were expected to be high.
The weekend numbers, however, tell a different tale. Satyameva Jayate 2 recorded Rs. 3.15 crore nett on its opening day, which was a weekday and a non-holiday. However, upon the release of Antim the next day, the collections dropped to almost half at a meek Rs. 1.85 crore, as per Box Office India. Primarily releasing with mixed to negative reviews, the weekend saw no major growth either, with the film's earnings standing at Rs. 9.60 crore nett in its first four days.
The reason behind its slump? Lack of good word of mouth, coupled with an outdated, exaggerated treatment. "The audience expectation from this genre, especially in terms of its treatment, has changed over the years," says Gautam Jain, Partner at Ormax Media. "The film went back to the 80s in its treatment, failing to excite the audiences."
Antim, starring Aayush Sharma and Khan, on the other hand, has steadily picked up over the weekend after opening decently at Rs. 4.75 crore. It collected Rs. 18.20 crore over its first three days, with Sunday even seeing a huge 35-40% growth from its previous day, earning approximately Rs. 7.75 crores. "Between the films that were available during the weekend, the audience that wanted to step out made their choice. This choice, for a larger number of people, happened to be Antim," says exhibitor and distributor Akshaye Rathi.
There were several reasons behind this. Not only did Antim have comparatively better reviews, it starred Salman Khan in his first theatrical release since the pandemic began. "Salman Khan's star power is undeniable, and that's one of the reasons why the movie has done the kind of numbers it has," says Rathi. There were videos shared across the internet that involved fans rejoicing the return of Khan – including one where fans were seen bursting crackers in a single screen. This prompted Khan to even turn to Twitter to address his followers, asking them to maintain safety protocols.
The film, revolving around the underworld in Maharashtra, is doing particularly well in Maharashtra, CP-CI and AP-Nizam markets. Being the remake of the hugely-popular 2018 Marathi crime drama Mulshi Pattern, the film is finding a solid footing across single screens and multiplexes in Maharashtra. "The film's Maharashtra numbers are much better than other states, and that is probably because of the cult status that Mulshi Pattern enjoys," explains Rathi.
Antim, released in 3200 screens across the country, also had a wider release than Satyameva Jayate 2 (2500 screens), further helping in its better numbers. However, none of these films inched close to the performance of Akshay Kumar-starrer Sooryavanshi, which has now single-handedly collected a whopping Rs. 189 crore (approx.) in India alone. "The audience is waiting to come back to the cinema halls. However, the film needs to be seen as a big-screen experience," says Jain.
This experience, especially in a post-pandemic world where people are still coming to terms with the new normal, comes with a mix of star power and good, engaging content. The star factor, while there in Antim, is also limited – with Khan's presence being more of an extended cameo. Satyameva Jayate 2, on the other hand, takes the audience for granted with its below par execution. "Rather than focusing too much on the story, we need to focus on the storytelling. It's about how we are giving value to the audience," says Rathi. "The only thing that's hampering the business of films that are underperforming is the quality of content because they are a punch below the waist when it comes to audience's expectations and standards," he adds.
With highly-anticipated films like Kabir Khan's 83 and Shahid Kapoor-starrer Jersey due in December, it will be interesting to see whether the Box Office performance of Sooryavanshi can be one-upped this year itself, or whether it would take a new year to see the theatres brimming with audiences again.