After a couple of years of pandemic-induced slump, 2023 was a good year for the Hindi film industry. Several big hits brought audiences back into the theatres. The highest-grossing movie in 2023 Jawan recorded a footfall of 3.5 crore. However, footfalls in the movies were still lower than pre-pandemic levels. The increased ticket prices made up for lesser footfalls and added to the box office numbers.
A report by Ormax on 2023’s box office collections and trends found that gross box office collections crossed the Rs 12,000 crore mark in 2023, higher than 2019’s pre-pandemic Rs 10,948 crore. The report found that Hindi had the highest box office share among languages in 2023 at 44%, up from 33% a year ago, followed by the southern languages, which included Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada, with 43%.
“The industry's ability to provide theatrically worthy event films from audience perspective has kind of increased. If the reason why to watch this film in a theatre is mentioned, and people see value in it. I think those kinds of movies are doing well. That seems to be the trend that if you can figure out what makes this film theatrical worthy, then a major part of the battle is won,” Sanket Kulkarni, head of business development (theatrical) at Ormax Media, told The Core.
Theatres Are Back
The Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing boom in over-the-top platforms have changed people’s viewing habits. Audiences now prefer watching movies in the comfort of their homes on streaming platforms. Last year brought people back in droves to the theatres. Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan and Jawan, Ranbir Kapoor’s Animal, and Sunny Deol’s Gadar 2 were the biggest grossers of 2023.
More than 1,000 films were released in 2023, but the top 10 films contributed 40% of the year’s total box office. Jawan was the highest-grossing film of 2023, with a gross box office of Rs 734 crore. Movie theatres recorded 94.3 crore footfalls in 2023, a 6% growth from 2022. However, it was still lower than the pre-pandemic level of 103.0 crore in 2019. This indicates that the growth in the gross box office collection in 2023 was driven more by an increase in average ticket prices. As per the Ormax report, the average ticket price (ATP) grew by 9% to Rs 130 in 2023 from Rs 119 in 2022.
“Although this has been your highest box office collection year, you have still not managed to reach the levels of footfalls which were in 2019. Now, a good understanding of this is we as an industry have kind of grown predominantly by increasing the ATP, rather than making more people come and watch films in the theatre,” Kulkarni said.
Going forward, 2024 will be a year of continuing the trend of franchise films. Like Hollywood’s Marvel universe, Indian films have also developed their franchises. Yash Raj Productions has a spy universe that includes movies like Tiger, Pathaan, and War. The director of Animal Sandeep Vanga Reddy has already announced Animal Park, the next in the Animal series. Tamil director Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Kaithi, Vikram, and Leo are all part of the Lokesh cinematic universe. Kulkarni also said that what worked in 2023 was makers successfully combining the star power of Hindi actors with the storytelling of directors from the south directors. Shark Rukh Khan-Atlee and Sandeep Reddy-Ranbir Kapoor gave two of the biggest hits of 2023.
“In 2019, around 17% to 19% of box office collections (Indian languages) came from franchise films, the same number for 2023 is almost 45%. So, there is this new importance for franchises that is not just about being interested in the film and watching it in the theatre. This whole concept of franchise films and creating engagement around it, has kind of also flourished well,” Kulkarni said.