Selfie, starring Akshay Kumar and Emran Hashmi was released on Fri. 24 Feb. ‘23. The movie stunned the entire film fraternity with an abysmal first day collection of Rs. 2 Cr plus on Day One. This is the lowest ever collection for any of the movies of the actor of Canadian origin who calls India his home. The film’s outcome has sent shock waves to malls and multiplexes as well.
Movies draw audience to Multiplexes, who in turn feed in to the retail stores, restaurants and food courts eventually. The trend which began with the onset of multiplex expansion by 2006 onwards reached its peak pre-pandemic. Wealthy Indians along with their aspirational diatribe made it a point to splurge at neighborhood malls atleast once a month. More audience meant more footfalls to malls and multiplexes and by 2018, the number of screens owned by chains such as INOX, PVR, Carnival, among others doubled.
Pathaan, starring Shah Rukh Khan has made Rs. 1,000 Cr at Box Office (read ticket collections from the audience), the highest ever for the actor in his almost 30 year career, who would turn a Senior Citizen soon. But the movie was an exception, according to trade experts. Even multiplexes owners didn’t expect such an outing from the actor who’s films over the past 8 years didn’t fare well at movie halls.
The next two months do not have any big national releases, nor regional releases in Telugu (second highest movies annually after Hindi) or Tamil. Mani Ratnam’s epic sequel PS-2 is scheduled of end-April once school and college exams are over. Until then, movie screens would run threadbare without much crowds.
Selfie, which was heavily marketed personally by Akshay didn’t click at the box office. Beyond a point, it is almost impossible to predict audience reactions for movies, especially of bigger stars. From taking the most number of selfies and creating Guiness record to dancing with co-stars of his past hits, Akshay enthralled the audience as much as he could – something that SRK didn’t. In fact, the crew of Pathaan didn’t have any pre-release hype such as the actors visiting Malls to greet fans. Nor did they host a media interview. Yet, the movie made headlines for its collections week after week since its launch on 25 Jan. ‘23.
Multiplexes are a worried lot. As it is, the entertainment consumption patterns have changed tremendously after the pandemic. With dry days ahead, it was already a challenge they were staring at. The Selfie seems to have only done more damage to the already ailing industry which had revenues of over Rs. 20,000 Cr pa in 2019. Brace up for turbulent times ahead.
Meanwhile, Malls will find it as difficult to pull traffic to their premises as the End of Season Sale was over in January. With exam seasons ahead, it is going to be equally tough times ahead for Mall-based retail brands as well. What would they do differently to drive crowds would be an interesting case study in the making. If only, they did, that is.