On Diwali, some musings on the Box-Office

Salman Khan’s Tiger 3 sets a new precedent by opening on a Sunday. Photo: Yash Raj Films

Diwali is among the most box-office-friendly seasons in cinema. The rider is: the pre-Diwali phase after another premium date, Dussehra, is considered among the most unlucky phases for new releases.

In an unprecedented move, Yash Raj Films and Salman Khan are set to release Tiger 3, their second mammoth film this year, on a Sunday. This year, both Diwali (as the main day observed in some parts of the country) and Laxmi Poojan fall on November 12, and so the date has been chosen to cash in on the festive mood.

With Fridays being the worldwide convention for new releases, thanks to the incipient weekends, filmmakers have been known to shift their opening dates to Wednesdays or Thursdays to cash in on opportune occasions like Christmas, Eid, Republic Day and Independence Day besides Diwali and Dussehra in India.  In rare cases, films have also been opened on Tuesdays.

However, Saturdays to Mondays have never seen new releases. Mondays are conventionally the days of the “Monday Test”: this means that the true assessment of a film’s performance is best done on that day. Many films open well on face value but collapse after the first Sunday and convention decrees that a film must make at least 50 percent of its opening-day business on the first Monday.

On the flipside, a film that has not made an impact from Fridays to Sundays because of reasons like poor promotion or low face value but has intrinsic merit, can pick up from Monday.

But Sunday as an opening day has never happened in known memory, and Tiger 3 is set to gamble on this year’s festive season. It is perhaps relevant to mention here that Salman, unlike Shah Rukh Khan who makes a cameo in this film, has been rather unlucky with Diwali, as Jaan-E-Mann, Kyon Ki… and other films have proved: only films with him in cameos (Om Shanti Om, Son of Sardaar) have worked. On the other hand, Salman’s movies with Aditya Chopra, come Sultan or the previous names in the Tiger franchise, which includes his cameo as Tiger in Pathaan, have all been whoppers.

12th Fail has become a sleeper success amodst a plethora of flops and disasters in the dull, pre-Diwali phase. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Turnaround of sorts

After a superb third quarter of 2023, October again saw a lean phase with no film making it big. In the post-Navaratri season in particular, there were a plethora of releases, most of which came and vamoosed and did not have any resonance with the audience. This is the time of the year when multiple movies come out each week, and even good movies like Dono and Mission Raniganj collapsed.

Complete anonymous films like Yaatris, Dhak Dhak, Guthlee Ladoo, Darran Chhoo, Bhagwan Bharose, Mujib: The Making of a Nation, Mandali, Lakeerein, Hukus Bukus , UT69 and Three of Us came in. But along with them arrived, with misplaced confidence, films like Ganapath (in Dussehra week!), Tejas and Aankh Micholi, each a catastrophe. In fact, on the cost-to-returns basis, Ganapath and Tejas rank among the biggest disasters of Hindi cinema in the 2020s.

Another totally presumptuous dud was Thank You for Coming, which showed that subjects pertaining to sex had to be dealt with more esthetically and convincingly. The wonderful Sajini Shinde Ka Viral Video went woefully unnoticed in this crowd, but, happily, 12th Fail picked up and has been a sleeper success on the lower side, similar to Uunchai last year.

And it is in such a scenario that Tiger 3 is expected to roar and throw the box-office ball out of the park.

The year 2023, and this perhaps is the right time to highlight the following facts, has been dominated at the box-office by three huge successes—Jawan, Gadar 2 and Pathaan in terms of the box-office. But in the recent Koffee With Karan episode, Sunny Deol was asked by Karan Johar why the figures for Gadar 2 were repeatedly emphasized as “organic”. His reply was that (a) the figures were not hyped, as is increasingly becoming the tradition nowadays and (b) the admission rates had not been raised for this film, especially at the beginning.

Add the love shown for the film all over, and it is safe to deduce that Gadar 2, as with Gadar—Ek Prem Katha 22 years ago, not only is the biggest hit in ROI or return on investment (the film was made on a relative paltry cost of Rs. 60 crore and made Rs. 525 crore in Indian box-office alone!) but also has seen the highest footfalls.

Let us now see if the man of the masses—Salman Khan—can top this record. Here’s wishing the film industry and my readers a Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New Year!





Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here