Box-office 2022: Resurgence & Records

02 Dec,2022



By Shailesh Kapoor


Shailesh KapoorIt’s still a month to go, and 2022 is already the third-best year of all time at the Indian box-office, across all films in all languages. The pre-pandemic year, 2019, holds the record, with total gross collections of ₹ 10,948 crore, while 2018 is No. 2 at ₹ 9,810 crore. As on Nov 27, 2022, the running year has clocked an estimated ₹ 9,532 crore.


The December line-up looks very robust, with a huge Hollywood franchise film in Avatar 2, and the Rohit Shetty family comedy Cirkus. Drishyam 2, which released two weeks ago, is still going strong. There are some very worthy releases in other languages too, such as Hit 2 (Telugu) and Gold (Malayalam), which released today and yesterday respectively. Crossing the ₹ 10,000 crore mark is only a matter of formality. 2022 has a genuine shot at the all-time record, especially if Cirkus lives up to expectations. And this in a year when the month of January was negligible in its contribution (only ₹ 168 crore) because of the third Covid wave.


A year ago, not too many saw this coming! If one were to compile all the media stories that spelt the death of the theatrical medium last year, it will be one fat book. The OTT category was predicted to the saviour of cinema. Today, subscriptions growth across the world has reached saturation, or is declining, even as theatrical business continues to make a strong comeback in most markets.


This is probably a peril of the pandemic. It has made almost everyone an analyst. People have started doling out “insights” on social media by the hour, with no consistency in their own internal logic over a few weeks.


The complexity of the impact of the pandemic can only be ignored at your own risk. Everything that we knew and understood till 2019 can now fall anywhere on the long continuum ranging from “it remains exactly the way it was before” to “2019 is no reference at all”. It’s often said that one must unlearn to keep adapting to changing situations. But the trick here is to choose what to unlearn.


The theatrical business has needed the maximum unlearning to do. For example, we, at Ormax Media, had to discard a large pool of data collected over almost a decade, and build our box-office forecast models afresh, when theatres re-opened last year. The rules have changed, after all. Films are opening and sustaining differently now. You cannot play by a 2019 playbook if the audience have written an entirely new one on their own.


With the passage of time, the real, long-lasting impact of pandemic in different walks of life will emerge. But one thing is certain. The movie theatres are here to stay, even though why and for what audiences visit them may have changed forever.


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