‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’, ‘Maidaan’ box office debacle impacts exhibition sector

‘Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan’, made on a budget of over Rs 300 crore, has earned Rs 72 crore gross in India, and ‘Maidaan’, made at a budget of over Rs 200 crore, earned Rs 51 crore (gross) in India

April 30, 2024 12:19 pm | Updated 12:33 pm IST

‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ and ‘Maidaan’.

‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ and ‘Maidaan’. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The box office failure of Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan and Maidaan, two high-profile festival releases from Bollywood, has had a cascading effect on the exhibition sector, say theatre owners impacted by the poor showing of the movies.

Bade Miyan... and Maidaan, starring big stars like Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff and Ajay Devgn, respectively, released during the festival of Eid, a traditionally good period for theatrical releases, but failed to live up to expectations.

Bihar-based exhibitor Vishek Chauhan said the situation is “alarming” in the first and second quarter of the financial year. “An exhibitor earns money when a film runs houseful. Almost 90 per cent of the business is down. This year has been a complete washout. Exhibitors are in red. The cost of running a cinema hall daily comes to around Rs 30,000. To just break even, we need sales of Rs 1 lakh but currently the sales are ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 15,000. So, you can imagine what the situation is like,” Chauhan told PTI.

Not just these two releases, the first quarter of the year saw big-budget movies such as Fighter and Yodha also perform poorly. According to Chauhan, Fighter at least had a good opening in the range of Rs 25 to Rs 27 crore.

He said Eid, typically seen as a profitable period in the industry, has turned out to be "disastrous" due to the failure of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and Maidaan. The festive period is generally associated with a Salman Khan release but the superstar didn't have anything lined up this year.

"Eid was a disaster compared to last year. We’ve never had such a bad response during Eid, except in 2022, when we had Tiger Shroff (Heropanti 2) and Ajay Devgn’s films (Runway 34) release,” he added.

According to box office tracking website Sacnilk, Bade Miyan..., reportedly made on a budget of over Rs 300 crore, has earned Rs 72 crore gross in India. Similarly, Maidaan, made at a reported budget of over Rs 200 crore, earned Rs 51 crore (gross) in India.

Akshay Rathi, who owns theatres in central India, says big-ticket movies, unlike last year which saw hits such as Pathaan, Jawan, Gadar 2 and Animal, have not fared well at the box office.

"Business has been drastically down. It is tough to measure in numbers. Compared to last year, it has been a ruthlessly bad scenario. Content, in general, has not been compelling enough for the audience to watch. Any film that has good content, be it Shaitaan or Laapataa Ladies, audience has come for them. We need to get creative in the way we put out content," Rathi told PTI.

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Chauhan fears the situation will continue to be "grim" in the second quarter, despite summer vacation. "This is a lucrative period to release films and it's being said that films are not releasing because of elections. I believe Bollywood producers are afraid of the box office. The situation is grim because of the poor performance of films this year, including the two disastrous Eid releases. It shows, despite having stars, budgets, festive dates, movies have tanked. In such a scenario, cinemas are suffering," he added.

Leading exhibitor and distributor Sunny Chandiramani, who runs 20 screens across Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, said the situation is so bad that he is thinking of shutting down some of the screens.

"Everyone is facing losses across the nation, maybe a little less in the South as regional films are doing well. We often say content is king but my observation is that the content is not good in Bollywood. Star power is (also) not working," Chandiramani told PTI.

"We are awaiting the release of the Marathi film Nach Ga Ghuma, which is on May 1. If that film performs well, we will continue our operations. If not, we will shut down 10 cinemas out of the 20 from May 7. This week, we are shutting down one screen out of the two in our multiplex," he added.

Manoj Desai, the executive director of Mumbai's iconic Gaiety Galaxy, also lamented the lacklustre run of movies at the box office, compared to last year.

"2023 was a great year for Bollywood and exhibitors but 2024 has been dull. We never thought Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and Maidaan would not do well. Ajay Devgn is an action hero, people like watching him in the Singham franchise and Drishyam movies. People didn't like both the films," Desai said.

Smaller films like Shaitaan, Laapataa Ladies, Madgaon Express and Crew did well, he added. “Fighter was a beautiful film but not many people came to watch it. I believe that it has been an overdose of war movies.” It is a wait-and-watch scenario for Chauhan, who hopes to increase the footfall in cinemas by reducing ticket prices.

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"We barely have 20 or 25 people in a show. We've reduced the ticket prices from Rs 150 to Rs 100 so that people come to theatres. I'll not shut down the cinema halls. We'll manage somehow to run content from other languages or Hollywood like The Fall Guy (May 3), Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (May 10), or a small film like Srikanth (May 10). We will take our chances with those films," he added.

The exhibitors have now pinned their hope on movies such as the Prabhas, Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Kalki 2898 AD, Kabir Khan's Chandu Champion with Kartik Aaryan, Devara starring Jr NTR's, Pushpa 2 fronted by Allu Arjun, the Ram Charan-led Game Changer, and Kamal Haasan's Indian 2.

"Small films, this year, have done the numbers but they've done well in a maximum of 20 cities. A big movie tends to do well beyond the metro cities. We need big-ticket movies to do well for the exhibition sector. We have Chandu Champion, Indian 2, Kalki... (Hope) things will change," Rathi added.

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