August 11, 2022, was expected to change the fate of the dull box-office business of Bollywood films when Aamir Khan's ‘Laal Singh Chaddha' and Akshay Kumar's ‘Raksha Bandhan’ hit the screens but these two superstars didn't bring relief either. Both the films not only failed miserably on the opening but the advance bookings have also dropped thereby sending shockwaves within the industry.
According to the report, both films ran at an average occupancy of 25 percent throughout the day and this is despite coming on Rakhi Holiday, which should ideally result in higher occupancies.
“ Honestly, the start yesterday at the box office has sent shock waves within the fraternity. Please imagine that Aamir khan coming after four years and Akshay Kumar also being a superstar combined are not even clocking Ras.20 crores on a big holiday release for both their films. This is not a good sign,” Girish Johar, Producer and Film Business Expert, Told Outlook.
'Laal Singh Chaddha' , directed by Advait Chandan, is a remake of the 1994 American film 'Forrest Gump' which itself is based on Winston Groom's 1986 novel of the same name. The film also stars Kareena Kapoor, Naga Chaitanya (in his Hindi film debut) and Mona Singh. 'Raksha Bandhan' is family comedy-drama film directed by Aanand L. Rai and written by Himanshu Sharma and Kanika Dhillon.It features Bhumi Pednekar, Sadia Khateeb, Sahejmeen Kaur, Smrithi Srikanth and Deepika Khanna along with Akshay.
Johar says that even though the fraternity and trade were upbeat for both the films, the audience simply is not interested.
Aamir Khan’s ‘Laal Singh Chaddha' collected Rs. 10.75 cr net on its first day. The numbers in East Punjab have been excellent but the film has not performed optimally, elsewhere. Also, the advances for day 2 are lower than that of the first day.
‘Raksha Bandhan’, on the other hand, collected Rs. 7.5 cr net on its first day, and the number is lower than the last two Akshay Kumar films that were released this year, namely ‘Bachchhan Paandey’ and ‘Samrat Prithviraj’.
Both the films have also faced certain backlashes on social media so when asked if cancel culture is the reason behind all this, Johar denies it and says that though “the results are not up to the mark so this is adding more fuel to their fire and giving fodder to their thought” but “i really feel that it’s the content which is not matching up to their standards.”
He says that there has been a huge gap that has happened and in between all this, the audience has matured too in terms of quality.
“All these releases are two and two-half years old and in these times, audience has matured in terms of quality because they are watching regional cinema, there is OTT, Hollywood has gone aggressive with big budget films in India and all those numbers are clicking," says Johar.
He says that average films of Hollywood are getting numbers in India, south films are doing extraordinarily well in Hindi belt but the Hindi one is not able to so clearly the audience is there. “ but they are not coming to Hindi films primarily because the content is not up to their standard.”
He also cites the reason for increased ticket prices. “Because the cinema theatres were shut so they had to increase the prices now and no one wants to watch the bad film (in terms of content) at a higher price. Also, OTT prices are coming down, so there are various forces at play for these,” he said.
So what’s the solution?
We have to find a new equilibrium, he says and added that it will take another 6 months for the box office to revive because in that period fresh content which was probably shot during the pandemic or post the pandemic will come to the audience.
“Couple of films are coming back to back so it can be Brahmastra, vikram vedha, Thank You, or Ram Setu. What I feel is that fraternity and makers have to find the right sync. There is a sense within the audience that a certain film will be easily available on OTT after some time so the urgency of going to the cinema is not there. I think there has to be a mix where certain films are meant for cinema and certain for ott and that equilibrium will happen,” he said.