Festive releases fail at the box-office, but theatres pin hopes on big-ticket releases to return to pre-Covid glory

Festive releases fail at the box-office, but theatres pin hopes on big-ticket releases to return to pre-Covid glory
  • Over 34 movies were released between September 15-October 30 – the festival period that included Dussehra and Diwali – and most of them did lean business.
  • With the exception of Brahmastra and Ponniyin Selvan: I, Box Office collections have been low in the July-September quarter.
  • In the coming months, Avatar: The Way of Water (releasing on December 16) and Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan (January 26, 2023 release) are among movies that are expected to drive collections.
This festival season has brought little cheer to the movie theatres, with not a lot of the Dusshera-Diwali euphoria translating into box office collections matching the pre-Covid levels. This is especially worrying as the festive season has traditionally been the most lucrative period for the film industry.

Over 34 movies were released between September 15-October 30 – the festival period that included Dussehra and Diwali – and most of them did lean business. Moreover, movies of big stars, like Akshay Kumar’s Cuttputtli, went straight to OTT platforms in spite of theatres opening up.

“Every Diwali we have seen box office collections close to ₹200 crore for Hindi movies alone usually. This time if you look at numbers for Ram Sethu and Thank God, their collection is around the ₹120 crore mark. This is a big concern because such numbers are unacceptable on a Diwali holiday,” said Karan Taurani, senior vice president - research analyst, media & consumer discretionary & internet, Elara Capital, in an interaction with Business Insider India.

To be sure, there were bumper collections in March and April, thanks largely to South Indian movies like RRR and KGF2 and a few odd Hindi films like Kashmir Files. However, the Bollywood movies that followed left the critics and the audiences cold. The festive season did not see any noticeable reversal in this trend.

The one positive surprise has again been from a South Indian film – Kannada film Kantara impressed audiences pan-India, with just the Hindi version raking in ₹76 crore in four weeks. This is higher than the total collection of most Hindi movies released in the September quarter – Laal Singh Chaddha raked in only ₹58.73 crore while Ek Villain Returns earned ₹41.69 crore.


Despite Kantara’s success, Taurani believes we’re not close to the pre-Covid levels. “One reason is content is the need of the hour and second is because people are not going to movies due to star power. Kantara has fared much better in comparison to Ram Sethu and Thank God. Even if we add Kantara numbers to this, this will still be close to ₹150 crore to box office collections. Taking two-three weeks of Diwali festivities, we are still 25% lower as compared to pre-Covid levels.”

Rajendra Singh Jyala, chief programming officer, INOX Leisure also echoed the sentiment that Q3 was a significantly slow month in terms of collections, especially in comparison to the performance in earlier quarters.

“I can't share the exact numbers, but April-May-June were the best months in 2022. Then, July-September, were, unfortunately, not that great,” Jyala told Business Insider India.

Beyond the festival season

It’s not just the festive season that saw a dip in collections. The entire July-September quarter saw a poor performance in terms of Box Office collections, with the exception of Brahmāstra, and later, Ponniyin Selvan: I.

“September was a very big month because of Brahmāstra. September was somewhere close to around ₹240-250 crore. October (collections) were close to ₹300 crore. Only ₹120-150 crore (was seen) in July and August in terms of box office (collections). So, in the months of July, August, we were down close to 65% versus the pre-Covid mark with an average run rate of ₹370-380 crore,” said Taurani.

In India Brahmāstra was among the highest-grossing films of the quarter, joined by Ponniyin Selvan: I and Thor: Love & Thunder.

MovieRelease DateLifetime Collection (India Box Office)
Thor: Love & Thunder (English)July 07, 2022₹101.71 cr.
Laal Singh ChaddhaAugust 11, 2022₹58.73 cr
Brahmastra - Part One: ShivaSeptember 9, 2022₹257.44 cr
Vikram VedhaSeptember 30, 2022₹78.66 cr
Ponniyin Selvan: I September 30, 2022314.70
All figures from Bollywood Hungama, unless specified otherwise

On the other hand, multiple movies failed at the Box Office, barely driving collections:

Movie NameRelease DateLifetime Collection (India Box Office)
Shabaash MithuJuly 15, 2022₹2.23 cr
DC League of Super-Pets (English)August 5, 2022₹3.01 cr
Do BaaraaAugust 19, 2022₹5.35 cr
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (English)August 26, 2022₹1.80 cr
Dhokha: Round D CornerSeptember 23, 2022₹2.75 cr
All figures from Bollywood Hungama, unless specified otherwise

High expectations from upcoming films

Analysts and industry players, however, are highly optimistic about collections improving substantially in the December quarter – even reaching pre-Covid levels – based on the line up of Bollywood and Hollywood releases.

Director-producer Sooraj Barjatya's Uunchai, which released on November 11, is already drawing in the crowds and boosting sentiments. Starring an ensemble cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Neena Gupta, Anupam Kher and Boman Irani, the film that focuses on the ties of friendship among senior citizens seems to have touched a chord with senior citizens and family audiences.

“With cars coming packed with friends belonging to this age group bringing their family along, we feel assured that everything is right … Our average transaction size of 2.6 has also gone up significantly,” Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR said in a press release.

The industry is pinning its hopes mainly on these films over the next few months – Ajay Devgn and Tabu starrer Drishyam 2 (releasing on November 18), Varun Dhawan’s horror comedy Bhediya (releasing November 25), and Ranveer Singh’s Cirkus (releasing December 23) along with director James Cameron’s highly-anticipated Avatar: Way of Water (releasing on December 16).

“October is already one of the top months - just the first month (in this quarter) has done that.The December ending quarter will be, if not bigger than April-May-June, then at least the same. It will not be lower,” INOX’s Jyala said.

Even discounting Drishyam 2, since it is a remake of a South Indian movie and these haven’t been doing well recently, as seen with Saif Khan and Hrithik Roshan starrer Vikram Vedha, Taurani is positive about the December quarter.

“The month of December would provide respite to the box office. It looks like it will be towards pre-Covid levels closing at ₹370 to ₹380 crore,” agrees Taurani. Additionally, the industry has high hopes from the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan, slated to be released on January 26, 2023, as it has a mega star and as the movie is touted as a sort of a comeback for the actor.

Industry experts are banking on the good cinematic experience that theatres provide to bring audiences back to the screens, as the sector still battles competition from OTTs who are continuing with the pandemic trend of showcasing new releases.

“Cinema experience is different from how we watch at home - no matter how big a screen may be at your home,” Jyala sums it up.

Will the current line up of movies draw in the audiences to the big screens? Only time will tell.