'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.
After facing one delay after the other, Jersey, starring Shahid Kapoor and Mrunal Thakur, finally released last Friday. A remake of the Telugu language sports drama of the same name, directed by Gowtam Tinnanuri (also the director of the Hindi version), the film collected a below par Rs. 14 crores nett over its first three days. "While this was Shahid Kapoor's next release after the blockbuster Kabir Singh (2019), the gap due to the pandemic and multiple changes in the release dates impacted its box office performance," says Gautam Jain, Partner at Ormax Media.
The film, previously scheduled to release in December 2021, had to be pushed just three days before the given date as the Omicron wave hit the nation. All the promotional activities, both online and offline, including the release of a Instagram popular music album, had been released and marketing strategies were well within completion by then. Post yet another delay, the makers decided to release a second trailer with the fresh release date – April 14, 2022. However, with less than a week to go for it to hit the big screen, the film was held back for yet another week to avoid a clash with Prashanth Neel's KGF: Chapter 2 in order to give the sports drama a wider release. This plan, however, did not pan out as expected. "In an absolutely ideal world, the film should've been released around April 8, when the RRR wave would've started to subside and KGF: Chapter 2 was yet to release," says film exhibitor and distributor Akshaye Rathi. "That week could have made way for a much better run for Jersey. Having said that, there's no point crying over spilled milk."
What has, in a way, hampered the film's performance has been the fact that its direct competitor in the market – KGF: Chapter 2 – is witnessing a pan-India hysteria of sorts. In the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, which were key markets for the film, the first-choice film continues to be the Hindi-dubbed version of the Yash starrer. The film has added a staggering Rs. 51.25 crores nett in its second weekend alone, taking its Hindi collection to an enormous Rs. 315 crores nett as of Sunday as per Box Office India – surpassing even RRR's Hindi collections, according to Jain.
"Jersey wasn't as much of a compulsory theatrical watch as RRR and didn't generate as much curiosity as The Kashmir Files either," explains Rathi. "It needed to have more firepower to give the people a more compelling reason to watch it in the cinema halls, that too against a film like KGF: Chapter 2."
Another probable reason behind Jersey's dismal weekend could be the level of disposable income among the masses, especially coming off of a pandemic. With the tremendous back-to-back successes of RRR, KGF: Chapter 2 and The Kashmir Files in the past couple of months, all gaining popularity as theatrical watches, there is a high likelihood that the theatrical release of Jersey couldn't accommodate the monthly budgets of the everyday moviegoers. The lack of word of mouth, coupled with its largely mixed reviews, didn't help either.
Since the pandemic began, the behavioral pattern of the viewers, in general, has seen an enormous shift. Considering the popularity and traction gained by Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada language cinema as well as their easily available dubbed versions on satellite and digital mediums, people are far more aware about the content around them. Therefore, Jersey, being an almost frame-by-frame remake of its original, could not add much value to the novelty aspect of the storyline.
So, is it safe to assume that the remake culture doesn't appeal to a larger audience anymore? Not really. However, the need to adapt, and not recreate, is key for such cinema. "Just retelling a tale is not enough. You have to tell it in a more cinematic manner. That's why remaking a Tamil or Telugu film frame to frame won't help. It has to be adapted and spruced up in the most cinematic way possible to suit the sensibilities of the target audience," says Rathi.