With Race 3, Kaala facing distribution hurdles, it's time for movies to stop relying on a big star's presence

Abhinav Jai Singh

May,09 2018 20:39:33 IST

The alarm bells are finally ringing for Bollywood.

Bollywood relies on extravagant big-budgeted movies and A-list stars to make its money. Any film starring Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, for instance, is touted to rake in hundreds of crores at the box-office; and the objective is often achieved. But, after a slew of movies making hundreds of crores at the domestic box-office, reality seems to be catching up with Bollywood in 2018.

Last year, the top five highest grossing Bollywood movies were Secret SuperstarTiger Zinda HaiHindi MediumGolmaal Again and Raees. Two of these five movies, Secret Superstar and Hindi Medium, were made on meager budgets of Rs 15 crore and Rs 23 crores respectively. While Secret Superstar ended up making over Rs 970 crores worldwideHindi Medium made an impressive Rs 332 crores.

Salman Khan's Tiger Zinda Hai performed exceedingly well at the box-office, and so did Shah Rukh Khan's Raeesbut they were expected to do so given the star-power attached to the two movies. However, 2017 saw a number of movies by A-list stars that didn't perform as expected. Salman Khan's Tubelight, Shah Rukh Khan's Jab Harry Met Sejal, and Ranbir Kapoor's Jagga Jasoos, among others, are a few examples.

This trend has been catching up with Bollywood in 2018.

It was reported on Tuesday, 8 May, that Salman Khan's Race 3 will probably get delayed. The reason behind the delay is said to be producer Ramesh Turani upping the price of the movie's theatrical rights to Rs 150 crores from the previous Rs 130 crore. This has caused distributors to to be wary of acquiring the theatrical rights to Race 3.

Race 3 and Rajinikanth in Kaala/Image from Twitter.

Race 3 and Rajinikanth in Kaala/Image from Twitter.

A similar situation is being faced by the makers of Rajinikanth's upcoming Kaala. Rajinikanth, who is seen as turning everything he touches to gold, is reportedly finding it tough to rope in distributors for the Telugu rights of his movie. Kaala, set to release in three languages across Indiais facing disinterest from distributors as the price of the Telugu rights of the movie is very high.

Last year, after the Kabir Khan directed Tubelight failed to leave any impact at the box-office, Salman Khan compensated distributors for the loss they incurred. Khan paid a sum of Rs 32 crores as compensation to the distributors of Tubelight, and an additional Rs 1.50 crore to exhibitors as a refund. The makers of Tubelight, on the other hand, made Rs 105.86 crore from India alone. The satellite rights for Tubelight was sold for Rs 60 crore, and the music rights for Rs 20 crore bringing the total to over Rs 185 crore. That was just Rs 15 crore more than its budget of Rs 170 crore; a figure much less than what a Salman Khan movie usually makes.

Salman Khan in Tubelight and a still from Jagga Jasoos/image from Twitter.

Salman Khan in Tubelight and a still from Jagga Jasoos/Image from Twitter.

Similarly, in the case of the Anurag Basu directed Jagga Jasoos, which failed to crack the Rs 100 crore mark, Ranbir Kapoor said he'd compensate the distributors if he's making money from a movie that fails at the box-office. "It is a healthy exercise. If someone loses money on something and you have made money out of it, its good to compensate. But that depends on person to person and film to film," Ranbir said back in July last year.

Even Shah Rukh Khan's Jab Harry Met Sejal, which starred Anushka Sharma and was directed by the critically-acclaimed Imtiaz Ali, failed to leave its mark at the box-office. Even though the movie recovered its cost of production, it fell short of being called a blockbuster or a successful undertaking. Other movies that met similar fates were Vishal Bhardwaj's Rangoon, and Ajay Devgn's Baadshaho.

Stills from Secret Superstar and Hindi Medium/Image from Twitter.

Stills from Secret Superstar and Hindi Medium/Image from Twitter.

While it may seem that Bollywood is doing just fine and making truckloads of money, the film business is more intricate than that. The distributors and exhibitors need to earn profits on their own without receiving compensations from Bollywood stars when a movie performs below expectations. When a movie performs on its own steam and provides great business to both the producers the distributors, a healthy business environment is formed. And the plates seem to be slowly shifting in Bollywood.

In 2016, there were no movies made on a small-budget or devoid of big names (with the exception M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story) that cracked the list of top-ten highest grossing movies of the year. In 2017, there are two such movies (Secret SuperstarHindi Medium) that conquered the box-office. This year, as we are in the fifth month, one of the most successful movies so far in India has been Avengers: Infinity War with a staggering Rs 196.59 crores in box-office collections so far.

This could mean two things for Bollywood: English movies, even though they are Marvel movies, are making their presence felt. Audiences are watching these movies in English, Hindi and other languages. Deadpool 2, the Hindi version of which has been dubbed by Ranveer Singh, will show how much it works for other Hollywood flicks. The second thing to notice here is that the audiences are watching movies for the stories they are telling and not for the star-power alone.

The hope now is for Bollywood to evolve and make movies that don't solely rely the opulence of the sets and a big star's presence for the movie to work.

Updated Date: May 09, 2018 21:13 PM