the BOmbay report (2016): 01st Jan-07th Jan

I’ve admittedly never been a Box Office kind of guy. While I’ve enjoyed the spirited Box Office debates and arguments looking from the outside in, rarely have I engaged with it as passionately as many members whom I admire and loathe do. Anyway, the idea for this weekly post (at least that’s the plan for now) came by way of a rather random exchange that I had with one of the esteemed members of this blog- Qalandar, an individual I am proud to have as a friend as well.

During his visit to my place during the Ganesh festival in September this past year; we were talking about Bahubali, and he casually remarked how he would like to see it on the big screen again. And I, just as casually, remarked that it was still playing at few cinemas, a long run at the cinemas which he was pleasantly surprised to learn of. That conversation stayed with me. Box Office figures tell you about opening days, first weekends, weekly nett and grosses and so on. But surely, the perception of a film and its acceptance cannot be arrived at only by how much it has made. Yes, the numbers matter… but there must be a meter to gauge a film’s continued ability to attract moviegoers and keep a steady flow coming in of those wanting to see it. In these times when new releases eat up all screen space, if a liked film from the previous weeks has come down to but a few screens, it will naturally have a ceiling on how much it can make with those amount of screens. But if it sustains those screens, and keeps churning out the numbers on the lower end consistently… surely that is a phenomenon in itself that cannot be ignored.

Now, I had no way of calculating this until I was lucky enough to have been put into touch with someone who works for an online ticketing portal and who shall remain anonymous. So after some effort, that person managed to come up with an algorithm that will calculate the points of a film on a weekly basis. We will be taking into account all the screens in the Mumbai region (that is inclusive of Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan-Dombivali even), the number of shows, the change in the number in successive weeks, the average occupancy (ticket rates do not come into play), the week in which it is playing, etc. Since it is just a one-person effort for now, we are starting only with Mumbai… and admittedly these are representative of only the screens that are affiliated with the portal (but that number is well over 500, so one can safely assume that the picture is almost a true one of the city at least). We are not sure if this is going to work and/or present a true picture of a liked film versus a film that has had a bumper opening and then fizzled out. But just to give you an example, a film in its seventh week holding a third of the number of screens that a movie in its third week is holding has got to mean more. A nothing film like The Intern stuck around for weeks on end at a few Mumbai screens; Katyar Kaljat Ghusali which I caught just yesterday released on the 12th of November 2015 alongside the monster Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. The latter reached its ceiling; the former while nowhere in the league to put up the same numbers is enjoying a steady flow (my screening yesterday in a smaller lounge screen had 65% occupancy) and this has to mean something. I will never forget just how long a run the disaster flick 2012 had in Mumbai or that I caught Aashiqui 2 almost ten weeks after it had released and it had still had a decent occupancy.

So then, I shall be presenting a weekly Mumbai-specific only Top Ten if you will. We could do a monthly list, a quarterly, a half-yearly and an annual one to round off the year’s films and their Audience Interest Index (AII).

Top Ten Films In Mumbai (01st January 2016 – 07th January 2016)


  • New Release
  • AII Points- 51


09) KHAKI VARDIWALA (Bhojpuri)

  • Release Date- 19th November, 2015
  • Weeks Running- 07
  • AII Points- 54



  • Release Date- 20th November, 2015
  • Weeks Running- 07
  • AII Points- 63


07) MONSTER HUNT (English 3D)

  • New Release
  • AII Points- 81



  • Release Date- 25th December, 2015
  • Weeks Running- 02
  • AII Points- 108


05) DILWALE (Hindi)

  • Release Date- 18th December, 2015
  • Weeks Running- 03
  • AII Points- 162


04) POINT BREAK (Hindi 3D)


  • New Release
  • AII Points- 171


03) POINT BREAK (English 3D)

  • New Release
  • AII Points- 417



  • Release Date- 18th December, 2015
  • Weeks Running- 03
  • AII Points- 480


01) NATSAMRAT (Marathi)

  • New Release
  • AII Points- 1419

9 Responses to “the BOmbay report (2016): 01st Jan-07th Jan”

  1. Interesting. This can give a competition to BOI and others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abzee2kin Says:

      Ha! Those are not the ‘lofty’ standards that we aspire to though. To be honest, this is an experiment and we hope that it will yield some interesting results… away from, but linked to, the chatter of Box Office netts and grosses.


  2. AII – Could you please give more flesh to the definition? What does higher AII points reflect? How it correlates with other AII rated movies.


    • Very suggestive idea indeed abzee — and fascinating to see the list of films here; apart from introducing so many of us to a number of these films, what I love about this list is that the way it is put together it immediately underscores the provisional nature of lists in general (a reality un-acknowledged by most of the “authoritative” lists)…

      Liked by 2 people

      • On a different note, it’s funny how things change over time: when I was growing the long runs that successful films enjoyed in India stood in contrast to what was possible in the USA. And today it is the opposite: in America successful films run for weeks and weeks in big cities (not at all uncommon to find films from 2-3 months ago still playing in NYC, a fact that belies those who said the commercial realities of contemporary Indian cinema mean that sort of thing just isn’t possible), whereas in India even the biggest blockbusters these days are barely seen anywhere 3-4 weeks later…


      • abzee2kin Says:

        Thanks Qalandar! You were the inspiration behind this. And you are spot on! How can one be authoritative that 1,2,3 are the top films of a given year. As Satyam rightly quipped in another post, he might as well be a closeted Modi fan.

        And yes, the greater fun here was alsoi being exposed to films that I may otherwise never have checked out the trailers for (not out of prejudice but simple ignorance of their existence). In fact, I am tempted to catch Chello Divas now.


    • abzee2kin Says:

      It’s a bit complex actually. And in the course of time, we will find out if it does any good at all. Let me try and explain it.

      Say an ABC movie with superstar 1 opens in Mumbai on 50%% of the screens. Those number of screens, along with the ticket prices, the capacities of those screens, etc. are its ceiling in terms of what it can make in that opening week (first day, weekend, etc.) At the same time another movie DEF releases with and has 30%% of the screens. Just as with the other movie, this movie too has its ceiling, but governed with different parameters. The former’s run may end in 3 weeks, while the latter, facing newer releases every week, goes on to run for another 7 weeks.

      Or compare film ABC with film GHI of superstar 2 also released at another time of the year with 50% of screens… but running consistently at the middle to lower end, with decreasing screens, for 8 weeks. It may perhaps have not had the same opening week figures or maybe it did. The idea here is to try and understand on a daily (drop/sustenance/growth) basis to arrive at weekly and overall screen-run estimates of how much does an audience still want to see a particular film. The perception of a film and its acceptability cannot be deduced merely from netts and grosses.

      The algorithm assigns points based on parameters such as- a) how many screens did the film open on; b) the capacities of these screens; c) the occupancy in comparison to the capacity; d) daily sustenance/growth/drop in the occupancy; e) change in the number of screens in successive weeks; f) change in capacities; g) occupancy in relation to changed number of days and screens; h) occupancy in relation to newer and existing releases; and so on.

      In response to what the points mean in comparison to each other- since this is a new experiment, frankly these points will not present a true picture at least immediately. I guess if one had to arrive at a definition, AII encapsulates buzz, desire to watch a film and acceptability. For example, in this first week of the New Year, based on the AII points Dilwale at 162 points had 33% of the buzz, desire to see it and acceptability that Bajirao Mastani enjoyed with 480 points. All things being different, for every person that went to see Dilwale, three people went for Bajirao Mastani.

      Satyam has always sagely maintained that there really is no upper limit to how much a film can make when it is truly accepted. With Box Office figures, the arguments usually come down to that so and so is the ceiling of how much a film can make, and these arguments are thrown around for underperforming films of stars by their fans until someone comes along and keeps shattering that myth and raises the bar.

      With this index, since it based on a points system than figures, there is no limit to what a film can amass. Which is why as I said earlier, for now these points may not mean much, and may start making sense as the year goes along. Let’s see. I will not be overconfident that the experiment will doubtlessly succeed. it is an attempt nevertheless to also understand and appreciate films that aren’t spoken of. I find it interesting for example that a Bhojpuri or Gujarati film is in its seventh week run… it has lesser screens and lesser sized screens but it is still has the capacity to fill those screens. Or that a Marathi release with Nana Patekar thanks to a major screen count, capacity and occupancy actually shows the potential of a wide regional release too. Or that the dubbed version of Point Break (a film I hadn’t even heard of) was fractionally better than Dilwale.

      Especially with regional and/or dubbed films, there are demographics which never get accounted for in BO debates. But there is a reason that these industries are surviving and churning out movies too. If nothing, this list at least gives them a mention.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Of course weak content is an issue with Bollywood these days, but here is part of the problem.

    India’s Film Industry — A $10 Billion Business Trapped In A $2 Billion Body

    India has the largest democracy in the world. A huge and fast growing middle class. It makes more movies than any other country, 1,500 to 2,000 annually. And its people are famously fanatical about those movies and their movie stars. By almost any measure, India should be the world’s highest grossing territory in theatrical revenue.
    So why does India’s movie industry gross only $2 billion per year at the box office?

    That amount is just a fifth of North America’s gross, despite a population more than three times larger. Less than a third the size of China’s industry. Even less than Japan’s, which has one-tenth the population that India has and far fewer movie screens.

    Here are six reasons why:

    India is severely under-screened. With just 1 screen per 96,300 residents, it is the world’s most under-screened major territory. The U.S., by contrast, has 1 screen per 7,800 residents. China, which until recently was even less saturated than India, has been on a cinema building binge and now has 1 screen per 45,000 residents. With such a deep shortage of movie theaters and screens, many of India’s fanatical movie fans are simply unable to see movies in the theater.

    India’s movie theaters are sub-par. More than 10,000 of the country’s 13,000 screens are single-screen cinemas. The economics of these theaters are inferior to modern multiplex cinemas, which can charge ticket prices that are double those of single-screen theaters. And because they can operate more efficiently, multiplexes can generate higher capacity yields and revenues per seat. India clearly has an infrastructure problem.

    India’s film economy is splintered into several regional industries. Unlike North America, China, and most major territories, where the vast majority of films are distributed in a single language, India makes and distributes films in more than 20 different languages. The regionalization, and linguistic politicization, of the country’s movie business saps its overall strength. Average production and marketing costs are higher and profits are lower than they would be if India’s film industry were more integrated.

    Ticket prices in India are too low. It’s true that India’s population is mostly poor, but that doesn’t fully explain why its movie ticket prices are among the lowest in the world. It has a middle class of between 50 million to 100 million people who can comfortably afford to pay much more than the average ticket price of 150 to 250 rupees (US$2.25 to $3.80). Government regulations keep prices in some regions artificially low; in Tamil Nadu, prices have been fixed at a maximum of 120 rupees (about US$1.80) for years, making film production and exhibition there a risky proposition.

    Taxes are too high. Unlike any other business in India, movies must pay both an Entertainment Tax, which would seem to classify them as a frivolous activity, outside the ambit of a necessary service, and they must also pay Service Tax, which implies they are necessary. Businesses in India are normally taxed as either one or the other, entertainment or service. But according to the tax collectors, Cinema is somehow, inexplicably, both. India’s tax treatment puts the cinema business in a financial chokehold.

    Piracy is rampant, and government-supported. Every train in India teems with hawkers selling illegal DVDs. The Railway Police, who are supposed to apprehend these pirates, will happily ignore them for a modest bribe. The government owned internet service provider, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which controls and sells all the bandwidth, receives sizable data revenues from illegal movie downloads. The BSNL website even promotes illegal downloads, advertising how one can get free movies on the internet. According to a 2013 article in WIPO Magazine (the journal of the World Intellectual Property Organization) the Indian film industry loses around INR 18,000 crores (US$3.34 billion) and some 60,000 jobs every year because of piracy.


    • abzee2kin Says:

      Interesting article. While it does make some valid points about taxes and piracy, its observation that lower ticket prices and existence of regional industries stop the Indian film industry from achieving its full potential is misinformed, an frankly off-putting and supercilious. Yes, India could have more theatres. But isn’t it an inherent contradiction that fans do not have enough options to catch a movie and yet many big releases run to less than half their capacity after the opening burst. One has to appreciate that a major chunk of India’s population is not only the Metros… and to plan therefore to increasing the ticket prices and make the urban middle class pay more towards yielding bigger revenue is a foolish plan. It is utopian I know, but what one needs are more screens, rural penetration, better films, economical ticket prices and a push and support for regional industries.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.