Business of nostalgia: Reruns aim to bring India back to the silver screens

Business of nostalgia: Reruns aim to bring India back to the silver screens
Source: IANS
  • Iconic romantic films including DDLJ, Tamasha, Titanic 3D version and Jab We Met were re-released during Valentine’s week.

  • For chains like PVR, reruns have been an important part of their campaign to bring India back to the theatres.

  • Analyst Karan Taurani believes reruns are not powerful enough to impact collections or drive theatre occupancy and indicates lack of fresh Bollywood content.

  • Indian film critic Sucharita Tyagi states reruns of classics are helping build film communities, drive theatre occupancy and celebrate cinema.
Theatre audiences in one of the PVR’s in Punjab were seen dancing to the groovy beats of ‘Mauja hi mauja’, a song from Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan-starrer Jab We Met, rereleased in theatres almost two decades after its original release. Kapoor called it ‘too special’ on Twitter. But is the business of nostalgia strong enough to mint money at the box office?

Several iconic romantic films including – Shah Rukh Khan (SRK)-Kajol-starrer Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge (DDLJ), Ranbir Kapoor-Deepika Padukone’s Tamasha, James Cameron’s Titanic in 3D and Jab We Met – were released across PVR, Inox and Cinepolis theatres during Valentine’s week this February.

Even though DDLJ remains the longest-running film in Indian cinema and is immensely popular with multiple reruns, it found tough competition this Valentine’s week from the Jab We Met rerun.

Jab We Met has now started beating DDLJ in PVR. Jab We Met collected ₹2 lakh on Friday. The collections then jumped to approximately ₹5 lakh on Saturday while the collections on Sunday were ₹6 lakh. On Monday, while DDLJ collected ₹6 lakh, Jab We Met collected ₹6.5 lakh in the multiplex chain,” reported Bollywood Hungama.

Rerun campaigns for boosting footfalls

PVR Oberoi Mall in Goregaon, Mumbai decided to play six shows of Jab We Met on Valentine’s day. Tamasha had 150 shows with 50% audience occupancy and Titanic 3D version rerun had 1,000 shows, with 60% occupancy, PVR told Business Insider India.

The PVR’S Valentine Week Film Festival (10th-16th February 2023) also re-released other romantic titles across languages – Ticket to Paradise (English), Ved (Marathi), Geetha Govindam (Telugu), Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa (Tamil), Hridayam (Malayalam), Googly (Kannada) and Love Ni Bhavai (Gujarati).

“Screened across 25 cities in India, Jab We Met, DDLJ, Tamasha, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa and Titanic especially received good response, recording average occupancy of 50-70%. Shows of Jab We Met had to be increased to meet the increased demand,” Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR, told Business Insider India.

PVR aims to continue with their rerun campaigns in the future, given the power nostalgia wields on millennials and even GenZs, Dutta added.

For chains like PVR, reruns have been an important part of their campaign to boost theatre occupancy – be it re-releasing 11 films starring Amitabh Bachchan on his 80th birthday or the ‘Dilip Kumar Hero of Heroes’ campaign celebrating his 100th birth anniversary. The release of DDLJ during SRK’s birthday last year collected ₹23.4 lakh, claiming 60% occupancy then.

“When you watch Jab We Met, you also watch it with 300 people who are die-hard fans of that film. Witnessing this celebration is pure joy. You know the punchlines, where to laugh, where to cry. Props to the Film Federation of India for bringing these classics back. They are also driving theatre occupancy,” Sucharita Tyagi, an Indian film critic told Business Insider India. Many movies like DDLJ, Tamasha, Jab We Met are already available on OTTs yet cinephiles are flocking to theatres in hoards.

An Ormax report states the Indian theatre audience has lost 24 million moviegoers to the pandemic. This is accentuated by low impact of small and medium-budget films and availability of OTT platforms. The OTT audience in India has grown 20% in 2022 with 424 million active users.

Yet, it looks like the big screen has its pull. “We are seeing films like Deewar in theatres, which was released when we weren’t even born. It is a novelty experience. Reruns boost film communities. The Priyanka Chopra led Jio-MAMI festival is also bringing physical screenings back. It is a good time for cinema I believe,” added Tyagi.

Impact on collections: minuscule

Reruns may boost film communities, but will they be able to revive flagging footfalls and lift box office collections?

Karan Taurani, analyst at Elara Capital, believes reruns are not powerful enough to impact collections or drive theatre occupancy. They are rather indicative of fresh Bollywood content. Also, reruns have limitations in their reach. For instance, a Jab We Met will rake in more numbers in Punjab or Delhi as compared to South Indian cities like Chennai.

“Reruns are happening because Pathaan has seen a strong run in the last two and a half weeks. Little to no fresh content is being offered, which is why these films are being re-released. The number of Hindi films released every quarter have come down 25-30%, from over 20 films every quarter pre-pandemic to less than 14 films now. There is greater reliance on big-budget films,” Taurani told Business Insider India.

SRK-Deepika Padukone-starrer Pathaan crossed ₹500 crore in India in 20 days, contributing 46% to January’s India box office collections. Films released in January 2023 grossed ₹1,389 crore at the domestic box office, the highest since April 2022, as per Ormax report. A caveat – only six films managed to cross the ₹10 crore mark, indicating greater reliance on big-budget movies like Pathaan.

“The impact of reruns is very minuscule. Collection is low because these are consumed more in terms of single screens where ticket prices are low. I don’t foresee a large number of people going to multiplexes for these films as ticket prices are 3-4 times higher,” added Taurani.

But Tyagi states these movies are helping India come back to the theatres, although she too wishes the ticket prices of these movies were cheaper.

“I cannot say if these movies are being used as fillers before the big releases but I am glad India is coming back to the theatres. I wish the ticket prices and snacks at concession stands were cheaper at theatres to make movie watching a more affordable experience,” added Tyagi.

Reruns may not be too successful at raking in the moolah at the box office but what they surely do is revive the currency of nostalgia – allowing the audience to relive the past while providing theatre chains a respite from falling audience footfalls.