When India Test skipper Virat Kohli comes out to bat, billions of people expect him to score big runs. His innings of 40s and 50s are considered to be failures, and rightly so. The 'run machine' has upped our expectations and anything less than a century is deemed unacceptable. Similarly, '83' starring terrific actors like Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone performing poorly at the box office just doesn't sound right. The Virat Kohli-Ranveer Singh analogy seems appropriate given India's obsession with both cricket and Bollywood. However, the movie's 'faliure' is even more jarring because the Kabir Khan directorial is based on one of India's greatest moments on a cricket field.
Released on December 24, '83' minted Rs 12.64 cr on the opening day. The movie made Rs 16.95 cr (Christmas), Rs 17.41 cr (Sunday) and Rs 7.29 cr (Monday). Clearly, the numbers are way below par for a film reportedly made at a budget of Rs 125 cr. Taking to Twitter, trade analyst Taran Adarsh said the "rejection is apparent in its numbers". "Premium multiplexes are driving the film's business, but that’s just not enough," he added.
The numbers are disappointing as Christmas is generally considered to be one of the best times to release a film (P.S. Ranveer's previous Christmas releases--'Simmba' and 'Bajirao Mastani'--did great business). It is a holiday period and people love to flock the cinema halls. Also, '83' had generated enough buzz to persuade people to go and relive the Kapil Dev-led Indian team's 1983 World Cup victory. Plus, the movie opened to some raving reviews from both critics and audiences alike. "If you needed a reason to walk into a theatre, 83 is that film which calls for a big-screen experience," wrote a critic. "The film and its principal star go for broke and, as one feeds off the other, the result is an absolute cracker," wrote another one. Then how come '83' couldn't become a box office champion? Let's try to find out.
'83' released only a week after Marvel's 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' and Allu Arjun's 'Pushpa: The Rise' hit cinema halls. Both these movies have been loved by the masses across the country. While 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' is inching towards the 200-crore mark in India (it has also become the first pandemic-era movie to smash the $1 billion milestone), the Hindi version of 'Pushpa: The Rise' is "showing no signs of fatigue in mass pockets and has emerged the first choice of moviegoers in these circuits", wrote Taran Adarsh. Even after the pre-release buzz, trade analyst Komal Nahta said that awareness levels for '83' were not high since it had limited promotion. “Most importantly, the music of the film was not a talking point. Good music helps in bringing in the crowds quickly,” he added.
2. High ticket prices:
This author watched '83' at PVR on a Sunday at 12:30 pm and the ticket prices ranged from Rs 500 to Rs 750, so one could only imagine the prices for the night shows. While writing this piece (on a Tuesday), this author checked the prices and it still haven't been reduced. Yes, the movie is an extravaganza and must be experienced on the big screen only, but the ticket prices are sky-high. The huge rise in prices may be because in most states the cinema halls have been allowed to operate at 50% capacity, but this does mean putting a major dent in the pocket of the moviegoers. And in the current pandemic times, people have really no money to splurge on unimportant things like movies. "It’s time to switch our focus for the time being from revenues to footfalls. It’s time to cultivate the habit of bringing people back to the halls – and we as Indians are always attracted by low prices," journalist Himesh Mankad wrote in a recent piece.
3. Omicron scare:
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Now, a new Omicron variant is causing major surges across the world. In India too, several states have been reporting a rise in the number of cases and as a result, most of them have imposed night curfews and many other curbs ahead of New Year celebrations to stop the spread of the deadly virus. With the curfew being imposed, night shows of '83' and several other films will be affected. Reportedly, night shows alone are estimated to bring in at least 20% of the money each day. So, in all probability, it looks awfully difficult for Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone's movie to recover.
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