Note: My views expressed in this article are not based on fact/fiction. For each film, I have used pieces of evidence to support my argument in each case for what I think happened, rather than what actually happened
"90 crore net" is the first week collection. "No no, it's 67 crore net" argues the other.
What is right? What is wrong?
Box office collections in India are something that became more popular and more widely talked about in the last few years. Decades ago, box office collections weren't talked about as much. Rather, terms like "silver jubilee" and "golden jubilee" would be used as films would run 25, 50 weeks (some even longer) and that was the true way to really measure how appreciated a film was and how big of a success it was. Times were different back then: there were fewer options for other sources of entertainment, a lot fewer screens/theatres which meant that those who couldn't get tickets for a film would have to wait to watch it, ensuring longer runs and sustainability of films in theatres.
In today's time, with unlimited entertainment options, more screens, more theatres...the shelf life of a film in theatres is very limited. People can easily watch the film of their choosing in a close by theatre, or unfortunately, through piracy. The unlimited entertainment options, along with high ticket prices, means that the audience becomes very choosy about which film they see.
So, if the number of weeks that a film runs is no longer relevant enough in today's time to measure box office success, then what is? Simple: Box office and box office collections only. The problem with these collections, however, are the million different numbers that start floating around for different numbers. Perhaps by error. Or perhaps, the worst possible event, producers inflating their box office numbers.
1) Let me start with an example of Salman Khan's Ek Tha Tiger. Box Office India (the collections from which Bolly Arena follows as well) at the time had the lifetime collection of the film somewhere around the 186 crore net mark. What did the producers Yash Raj Films have as the lifetime collection? 199.6 crore net. A source had stated that Ek Tha Tiger had actually crossed the 200 crore net mark but that YRF wanted to give a lower share of profits to Salman and hence, reduced the collection to 199.6 crore net.
I don't really buy into the theory that YRF would reduce the collection of their own film to less than 200 crore net as that only makes their film look bad, and how much would that have changed Salman's profit ratio anyway? At the same time, how weird does a number like 199.6 crores net look? It also seems artificial. Box Office India's figure was around the 186 crore net mark, but given that Salman's films have HUGE collections from smaller centers/single screens (places where it may be harder to track collections), it's possible that the figure was actually higher than that.
I think the film probably collected somewhere around the 190 crore net mark, with a few crores inflated by YRF, which is not a big deal, really. Perhaps, though, they should've declared a different figure, rather than a weird-looking "199.6 crore net".
With YRF-Salman's recent film Sultan, there was again talk that the collection was being reduced to avoid giving Salman a big share of profit. Again, I don't buy the fact that YRF would publicly reduce the collection of their own film. The lifetime collection of being exactly on the dot at 300 crore net is a little strange, but BOI also has a similar number, which means that the actual collection was definitely around that mark.
2) Next up, let's get to the most interesting one that everyone is aware of: the box office collection of Krrish 3. It was always going to be a big grosser. No denying that. It was always going to be a Blockbuster. No denying that. Both of these facts are universally known by all trade analysts. However, the difference in collections from source to source was indeed worrying:
Interestingly, trade analyst Taran Adarsh stopped posting a weekly top 5 chart of box office figures soon after he reported a 235 crore net total of Krrish 3. Times of India also posted that they will no longer be reporting box office figures of films due to manipulation and fooling readers.
Were Krrish 3 figures manipulated/inflated? The answer is a big YES. In reality, the collection was somewhere near the 200 crore net mark, but probably not anywhere close to the 244 crore net collection that the producers released.
3) Happy New Year: The opening day collection released by the producers (Red Chillies) was 44.97 crore net (including Tamil and Telegu version). Box Office India had their initial estimate for the opening day as 40 crore net, but as of now, they have it at 36 crore net. If we add Tamil and Telegu version, their opening day would be somewhere around the 38 crore net mark. Again, it can be hard for BOI to track exact collections from single screens and smaller centres.
Keeping all this in mind, I feel that Happy New Year's opening day collection was somewhere around the 40 crore net mark, but not the 44.97 crores net figure released by Red Chillies. I think with both the lifetime collection of Ek Tha Tiger and the opening day of Happy New Year, it's the producers inflated the collections just enough to be below a certain benchmark (200 crore net and 45 crore net respectively). Regarding the lifetime collection of Happy New Year (approx. 203 crore net reported by the producers), I think the collection was inflated just to enter the 200 crore net mark. In reality, the collection was probably closer to BOI's reported 178 crore net. Nonetheless, the film is universally considered a Super Hit at the box office.
4) Ajay Devgn's Shivaay also its share of controversy regarding its collection. On individual days, the producer's (Ajay) figures kept coming higher than that of BOI. Again, we can take into account the fact that an Ajay Devgan film will do its best business in smaller centres/single screens where it is harder to track collections, but the interesting thing here is that after a certain point, Taran Adarsh stopped tweeting the figures of Shivaay.
The final difference in collections between BOI and the producers was 16 crore net: 84 crore net from BOI, 100 crore net from the producer. On the other hand, Shivaay's competition, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, had only a 6 crore net difference between BOI's collection and the producer's collection. The interesting thing here is that leading into the clash, Ajay Devgn was the one making the clash dirty by having a phone call of KRK recorded that lead to absolutely nothing with Karan Johar being proved honest.
In reality, I think Shivaay probably collected around the 90 crore net mark, but the figures were hiked so that it can be said that the film crossed the 100 crore net mark. Interestingly, Taran Adarsh tweeted that the film has completed 50 days at the box office, but he never made mention of the film crossing the 100 crore net mark.
5) Lastly, the current clash: Kaabil vs Raees. This has become a very dirty clash, and all of the dirty laundry, so to speak, has been revealed in public eyes. Many people are now well aware that the makers of both films are indeed inflating the collection of their respective film. Throughout the extended weekend, the collections of Raees were matching those of the trade figures: a clear indication that the figures of the film were not being manipulated, yet. However, the makers of Kaabil (and Rakesh Roshan in particular) started playing a dirty game by manipulating the figures of Kaabil from the first day itself.
By the end of the 5 day extended weekend, the figures from BOI were at around the 54 crore net mark, whereas the producer figure was around 67 crore net . At the end of the extended first week (9 days), the BOI figure of Kaabil was 67 crore net, whereas the producer figure was 90.55 crore net, a HUGE difference of approximately 23 crore net! What happened here was that Raees was beating Kaabil each day (in terms of collections), but the collection of Raees dropped on its first Monday whereas Kaabil was inflating the collection of their Monday (despite having a lower Monday than Raees).
Thus the makers of Raees also had to start manipulating their figure so that Kaabil doesn't artificially take over the figures of Raees with their own manipulated figures. With that being said, it is also morally wrong of the makers of Raees to start manipulating their figures as well. However, on the second Friday, both films crossed all limits of manipulation: the trade figure of both films was around the 3 crore net mark each, whereas the producer figure of each film was around the 6 crore net mark! Interestingly, Taran Adarsh stopped tweeting the figures of Kaabil fourth day onwards, and he stopped tweeting the figure of Raees sixth day onwards. Quite telling really, of the manipulation being done by the makers of both films!
The collections of both films are being inflated by the makers, no doubt. The BOI lifetime figure of Raees and Kaabil will be approximately 130 and 85 crore net respectively, while the producer figure will be around 160 and 130 crore net, respectively.
In conclusion, it's high time that there is a proper tracking source to report box office collections in India...to end inflation. To end manipulation. There should only be one major source that cumulatively collects data. If that means that a reporting agency from overseas has to be brought in to track collections in India, then that will be a step in the right direction. There has been news about Rentrak tracking collections of some films, but it will be necessary to do that for all films, not only some films, be it Rentrak or any other tracking agency!
If box office collections keep getting manipulated, then it will get to the point where NO ONE will take them seriously and whichever film actually realistically breaks the next barrier (400 crore net) will not be celebrated, as the question on the minds of some people will be, "Are these collections manipulated or not?"
Bolly Sidhu is a Bollywood buff and Box office enthusiast from Canada. You can follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/srkat14
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Bollywood Arena. If you also want to write for us, send your articles on [email protected]