'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 post-pandemic buzz that the release of Sooryavanshi saw at the Box Office, soon after the reopening of the theatres in Maharashtra, seems to have failed to replicate two weeks on with the release of YRF's Bunty Aur Babli 2. The urban con-comedy, starring Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Sharvari Wagh, released last Friday, earned Rs. 8.50 crore nett over its first weekend. Released in over 1900 screens in the country, the film's performance has been underwhelming. "Overall, the first three days have been disappointing. It didn't live up to expectations," says entertainment industry tracker Sreedhar Pillai.
For a film like Bunty Aur Babli 2, a sequel of Shaad Ali's 2005 hit Bunty Aur Babli, the expectations were largely driven by content and audience likeability, unlike Rohit Shetty's Sooryavanshi, that drove on star power and brand. "If the film had better content, it could've done well. However, the reviews and word of mouth haven't been strong either," says Pillai. While the film's cast looked promising and the trailer (with 21 million views) generated curiosity, it didn't help that the film, which, to an extent, relied on its predecessor's nostalgic value, failed to boast of a music album that could hold up against the original. Furthermore, the significant time gap between the two films possibly hindered its retention value, especially for the younger generation – essentially, the film's target audience. "While the expectations from the film were high considering that the first film in this franchise performed very well, the 16-year gap between the two films makes it difficult for the franchise to develop a loyal fan base," explains Gautam Jain, Partner at Ormax Media.
While the film's performance was affected due to 50% occupancy rates continuing to prevail in theatres across several states, including Maharashtra, it must be noted that the month's earlier release, Sooryavanshi, managed to earn a staggering Rs. 77 crores nett despite the same limitations. In fact, Akshay Kumar's earlier theatrical release of the year (also the first big release from the Hindi film industry since the pandemic), Bell Bottom, had collected approximately Rs. 13 crores nett over its first weekend. It did so at a time when theatres in Maharashtra hadn't even opened yet, and every state in the country was running limited shows with restricted occupancies.
Rani Mukerji's previous releases before the pandemic, including Hichki (2018) and Mardaani 2 (2019), had generated good numbers from West Bengal. Bunty Aur Babli 2, however, hasn't been able to display a similar pattern. "Since the film had a North India backdrop as well as songs with Punjabi flavour, this skew was not seen in the performance," says Jain. While the film did fare better in Northern regions, especially since it released on a holiday (Guru Nanak Jayanti), it didn't pick up much even on Sunday, where the film managed to earn approximately Rs. 75 lakh more than the earlier two days, as per Box Office India reports.
Sooryavanshi, on the other hand, continued its blistering run. Released at a much-larger scale in over 3200 screens around the country, it earned an impressive Rs. 12 crores nett in its third weekend. "The films has collected Rs. 180 crore nett as of date and should cruise past the 200 crore mark by the end of its run," reveals Jain.
With the film expected to head to Netflix around the beginning of December, after its 4-week theatrical window comes to an end, isn't it surprising to see the audience continuing to head to the theatres? "Now that people are starting to come out of their homes, what's better than to see a movie in the theatres? Right now, Sooryavanshi, with decent word of mouth and a big star, is the best option they have," says Pillai.
With the coming week looking big for Bollywood, with the release of John Abraham starrer Satyamev Jayate 2 on November 25 and Salman Khan starrer Antim: The Final Truth on November 26, it looks unlikely that the collections of Bunty Aur Babli 2 would drastically pick up in the weeks going forward. On the other hand, it looks like the right time for Sooryavanshi to head for its final lap at the Box Office before moving to the digital space.