EXCLUSIVE: Lacking big South Indian releases on the scale of RRR and the K.G.F. franchise, India’s box office was down by 15% in the first half of 2023, compared to the same period last year, pulling in $592.68M (Rs48.68BN), according to figures from India’s Ormax Media.
Yash Raj Films’ Hindi-language action pic Pathaan, starring Shah Rukh Khan, was the highest-grossing film in India during this period, taking $78.65M and accounting for 13% of overall box office. It was followed by multi-lingual action film Adipurush, which grossed $40.54M, and Hindi drama The Kerala Story with $32.02M.
Both Adipurush and The Kerala Story were endorsed by India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but both have proved controversial. Adipurush, based on Indian epic Ramayana, crashed at the box office after a strong start with audiences criticizing its VFX, as well as its treatment of one of Hinduism’s most important texts.
Also intended to appeal to Hindu audiences, The Kerala Story was slammed for factual inaccuracies in its allegedly true story of girls from Hindu and Christian communities who are missing from the state of Kerala after being recruited into ISIS and converting to Islam.
Universal Pictures’ Fast X was the biggest Hollywood release, ranking at number eight with $16.44M (see Top Ten chart below).
In comparison, the first half of 2022 saw S.S. Rajamouli’s Telugu hit and eventual Oscar winner RRR grossing $105M on its March release, followed by the second part of the Kannada-language K.G.F. franchise, K.G.F: Chapter 2, which grossed $117M in April. The success of the two films pushed the market share of South Indian films to 50% in 2022, with Hindi films only taking a 33% share (which included the Hindi dubbed versions of both RRR and K.G.F: Chapter 2).
So far this year, the biggest hit from the Telugu industry has been Mythri Movie Makers’ action pic Waltair Veerayya, starring Chiranjeevi, while the Kannada industry has not had any major releases. Three Tamil films made it into the first half Top Ten – action drama Varisu, starring Vijay; the second installment in Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan epic, and heist movie Thunivu, starring Ajith Kumar.
Without the big Telugu and Kannada releases, the market share of films from the four South Indian film industries dropped to 44% in the first half of 2023, while Hindi films climbed to a 37% share.
January was the biggest month of the year so far, pulling in a total of $169M (Rs13.88BN), mostly due to the success of Pathaan, which accounted for 13% of total box office in the first half of the year.
However, June was also a strong month, with a total gross of $126M (Rs10.35BN), due to Adipurush and credible box office performances from Zara Hatke Zara Bachke (Hindi), Carry On Jatta 3 (Punjabi), Baipan Bhaari Deva (Marathi) and Maamannan (Tamil).
Ormax Media estimates that if the market tracks at the same rate for the rest of 2023, it will be down 8% year-on-year to $1.19BN (Rs97.36BN) at the end of the year. However, several big upcoming releases could push the market back to pre-pandemic levels (total box office of $1.33BN in 2019).
These include the September 28 release of Telugu-language action film Salaar, starring Prabhas, from the team behind the K.G.F. franchise – director Prashanth Neel and Bangalore-based production company Hombale Films.
From the Mumbai-based Hindi industry – big upcoming releases include Shah Rukh Khan’s next two films – Jawan, scheduled for September 7, and Christmas release Dunki – as well as Tiger 3, the latest entry in the Yash Raj Films franchise starring Salman Khan, scheduled for November 10 to coincide with the Diwali holidays.
India Top Ten Box Office Jan-June 2023
[Based on gross domestic box office across all language versions]
1.Pathaan (Hindi) $78.65M (Rs6.46BN)
2. Adipurush (Hindi, Telugu) $40.54M (Rs3.33BN)
3. The Kerala Story (Hindi) $32.02M (Rs2.63BN)
4. Varisu (Tamil) $25.81M (Rs2.12BN)
5. Ponniyin Selvan – PS2 (Tamil) $25.08M (Rs2.06BN)
6. Waltair Veerayya (Telugu) $23.13M (Rs1.90BN)
7. Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar (Hindi) $18.75M (Rs1.54BN)
8. Fast X (English) $16.44M (Rs1.35BN)
9. Thunivu (Tamil) $16.31M (Rs1.34BN)
10. Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan (Hindi) $14.98M (Rs1.23BN)
Source: Ormax Media