Three key reasons for increase in Hindi films’ opening weekend box office collections


MUMBAI: In 2008 when the Aamir Khan starrer Ghajini broke all box office records, the industry thought the zenith had been reached. It then took 12 months for another Aamir Khan movie – 3 Idiots to break its predecessor’s box office record at the fag end of 2009.

However, 2010 has been another story altogether for the Hindi film industry. While no movie has so far been able to cross the total collections of 3 Idiots, the fact of the matter is that the opening weekend box office numbers have augmented this year.

In 2008, Ghajini did a net business of Rs 295 million in its opening weekend, which was the highest ever. 3 Idiots then followed it up with monstrous net collections of Rs 405 million in its opening weekend. On the other hand, big ticket movies that were released in 2008 and 2009 like Love Aaj Kal, Kambakkth Ishq, Singh Is Kinng, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi had opening weekend net collections in the range of Rs 250 – 280 million.

Now last week’s release Raajneeti is a close second to 3 Idiots with net collections of Rs 340 million in its opening weekend. In the first five months of 2010, four movies namely My Name Is Khan, Housefull, Kites and Raajneeti have touched the Rs 300 million+ mark in net box office collections in India in the first three days of release.

A handful of factors have contributed to this rise in opening weekend numbers. The first is definitely the increase in the number of multiplexes across the country over the last two – three years. At the end of 2007, there were a total of 93 multiplex properties and 367 screens across India between the six national chains namely Big Cinemas, Cinemax, Fame Cinemas, Fun Cinemas, Inox and PVR. As per the latest figures, that number has grown to a total of 223 multiplex properties and 785 screens as of June 2010. The number of multiplex screens across India has thus seen a growth of approximately 213 per cent in the last three years, which has been a major contributing factor to the growth in box office collections.

Secondly, the average ticket price (ATP) at multiplexes over the last few years have also been on a steady rise. While two years back, the ATP was in the range of Rs 130 – 200, this has now been upped to approximately Rs 180 – 280 during the week and to Rs 280 – 350 during the weekend. Opening weekend figures have thus been on a high due the steep rise in ticket prices over the weekend.

Thirdly as compared to last year, all big movie releases this year have been given breathing space at the box office due to the systematic release pattern. Due to the three-month standoff between multiplexes and Hindi film producers last year, movies were released consecutively every week and the audience was spoilt for choice. With limited budget on entertainment spends, people prioritized which movies to watch in theaters and which ones to skip. However, now with a gap of almost two weeks’ in between two big releases, the audience is more prone to going back to theaters every alternate week to watch new releases.

Now with Raavan releasing only next weekend, Raajneeti along with previous releases like Housefull, Badmaash Company and Kites have the potential to stay put at the box office. Also due to the two weeks’ gap between Raajneeti and Raavan, the audience is likely to throng again to the theaters to watch the latter. The opening weekend figures of Raavan will definitely be something worth watching.