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August box office round-up: ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ dominates a mixed, cluttered month

LiveMint logoLiveMint 05-09-2017 Lata Jha

New Delhi: A month cluttered with more than dozen releases—as many as 14 on one Friday—saw more disappointments than reasons to rejoice.

“It has been quite a mixed month with the release of both one of the biggest disappointments in recent times and one of the biggest grossers of the year,” said Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema, referring to Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Jab Harry Met Sejal, which finished at Rs64.30 crore in theatres, and Akshay Kumar’s social drama Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, which earned Rs131.60 crore at last count.

Small-budget romantic comedy Bareilly Ki Barfi has set the cash registers ringing too, with collections of Rs29.52 crore. But the debacle of Jab Harry Met Sejal has more than derailed business.

“August is generally a big month for movie business given the festivals and holidays and the fact that a lot of big-ticket films traditionally release post May,” said film trade and business expert Girish Johar. “It could’ve been great this time too, had JHMS not emerged as one of Shah Rukh Khan’s lowest numbers in recent times. Rs100 crore from JHMS, Rs100 crore plus from Toilet and around Rs30 crore from Bareilly and the month could have touched business of Rs275-300 crore.”

The mass of small releases didn’t benefit either. Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, children’s adventure Sniff!!!, Yash Raj Films’s Qaidi Band and Sidharth Malhotra and Jacqueline Fernandez-starrer A Gentleman finished at Rs11.24 crore, Rs86 lakh, Rs35 lakh and Rs19.82 crore, respectively.

“It was like mass suicide,” Mohan said. “Usually after a big release—and in this case, we had three, Mubarakan, Jab Harry Met Sejal and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha in three consecutive weeks—there are no movies immediately because both audiences and multiplex owners tend to prioritize the older films. Plus, with so many movies clashing, it’s impossible for any one to stand out.”

The Hollywood releases may have been fewer but the only film to stand out was supernatural horror film Annabelle: Creation, which, Johar said, had earned around Rs45-50 crore without having big names in the star cast to bank on.

The dark horse this month, however, has been regional cinema. While Ajith’s Tamil spy thriller Vivegam raked in Rs33.08 crore worldwide on its opening day alone, even surpassing the Chennai earnings of blockbuster war epic Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, Telugu comedy drama Arjun Reddy made Rs31 crore worldwide by the end of its first week.

However, there is much to look forward to next month. While period heist film Baadshaho and comedy drama Shubh Mangal Saavdhan have already set the tone, Kangana Ranaut-starrer Simran and Hollywood films Kingsman: The Golden Circle and It are up next, besides Sanjay Dutt’s comeback vehicle Bhoomi.

“This month, there is Judwaa 2 that is one of the biggest titles of the year,” Mohan said. “Given that Salman Khan is still such a big star, it would be interesting to see if and how Varun Dhawan fits into his shoes.”

All figures have been sourced from movie website Bollywood Hungama

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