Eight big-starrers joining the Rs.100-crore club, unusual-themed small-budget movies turning into miraculous hits and almost no major setbacks among about 150 releases: Bollywood's 2012 box office report card has set a benchmark, say trade pundits.
They contend that with a reportedly Rs.2,273-crore profit, it has been a "balanced" year for the Hindi film industry, which can now look forward to more fireworks and a Rs.200-crore club in the next two years.
Summing up 2012 as "a balanced year", Vinod Mirani told IANS: "Be it small budget films or big films or unusual genres - all of them worked well at the box office. This year was better than the last few years because all kinds of films worked, which is a very positive sign."
In the first half, a bouquet of small-budget non-commercial films with unusual themes like "Kahaani", the woman-centric thriller, "Vicky Donor" on sperm donation, and "Ishaqzaade", rowdy romantic actioner, did exceptionally well by earning Rs.75 crore, Rs.45 crore and Rs.40 crore respectively. Biggies like "Agneepath", "Housefull 2" and "Rowdy Rathore" too yielded gold at the box office by joining the Rs.100-crore club.
Three Khans - Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir - rule the roost and the second half was dominated by them. Their releases "Ek Tha Tiger", "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" and "Talaash" respectively became pots of gold. So did Ali Khan">Saif Ali Khan-starrer "Cocktail".
Distributor Rajesh Thadani of Multimedia Combine told IANS: "The second half of 2012 was pretty good. "The Khans' films have done pretty well. 'Ek Tha Tiger' collected around Rs.190 core, which is outstanding."
Aamir's "Talaash" has so far managed to amass around Rs.90 crore so far in the India territory and is expected to soon enter the Rs.100 crore zone.
Revealing the ballpark figure of the biggies, Thadani said that "Agneepath" collected Rs.120 crore, "Housefull 2" Rs.110 crore, and "Rowdy Rathore" Rs.140 crore.
According to distributor Sanjay Ghai of Mukta Arts, the estimated earning of "Ek Tha Tiger" was around Rs.190 crore, of "Son of Sardaar" Rs.105 crore, of "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" Rs. 121 crore, of "Barfi!" Rs.110 crore and of "Bol Bachchan" Rs.105 crore.
At the year-end, Salman Khan once again entertained with "Dabangg 2", which has set the cash registers ringing by amassing Rs.60 crore over the weekend.
An industry source told IANS that total profit in 2012 comes to Rs.2,273 crore.
Nor were there too many box office disasters.
"Besides two films - 'Players' and 'Joker' - none of the films can be put into the disaster zone. These are the only two films which did very poor business," Ghai told IANS.
Trade analyst Komal Nahta gives credit to increasing acceptability of the audiences and the multiplex culture for this profitable change.
"Now we don't need 1,000 seats to fill theatres. The work is done in just 215 seats with high ticket rates," he added.
Cheering Hindi filmdom's phenomenal year, Nahta said: "This is one of the best years. I believe the industry has pushed the envelope to the next level and in the next two years we will be talking about Rs.200 crore (club) and not Rs.100 crore."
Nahta hopes to see fireworks at the box office in 2013 as well.
"I hope the good work keeps going in 2013 as well. We have films like 'Dhoom 3', 'Krrish 3', 'Chennai Express' and one or two films of Salman Khan; so there is a lot to look forward to in 2013," Nahta added.
Ghai predicted that 2013 "will get crazy and now we have to see how we control this".
(Uma Ramasubramanian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)