January has never been witness to fireworks at the box office. The highest grossing film in this month has been last year’s Raees (139 crores). In that aspect, it has marginally fared better than the disadvantaged months of February (Jolly LLB at 117 crores) and March (Badrinath Ki Dulhania at 116 crores) when exams do not allow a big section of the audience- the school students-to turn out for cinemas frequently and freely.

On the other hand, nearly half of the month of January is wrapped in winter holidays for that audience demographic which should really benefit the film. The lacklustre performance can be partially attributed to Christmas releases which hold over the first two weeks of January particularly if it’s an Aamir Khan film. The risk of inadequate screen count and insufficient time gap for wider audiences to again shell money for a movie experience in two weeks has frisked the big films away. Only small obscure films had managed to release during this period most of which could not outgrow their obscurity post-release.

The curious case of a dry January: Can Padmaavat change it?
The curious case of a dry January: Can Padmaavat change it?

This need for exhibition space has thus moved producers’ attention towards the last week of January. The value that Republic Day adds can only be exemplified by comparison of the single day collections of movies before and after Republic Day. Race 2, which had its weekend collection in the range of 15 crores each day, steered up by 33% due to the holiday falling on day 2. Jai Ho managed to cross 100 crore mark because of 50% push on Sunday when collections before fetched below 20 crores. Airlift seemingly had its weekdays in 6-8 crore bracket but for the holiday on Tuesday which not only propelled its Monday collections towards 10.4 crore-late evening onwards-but also took off on the next day at 17.8 crores– a 71% growth. Similarly, Kaabil, last year, reached its true potential with a 79% surge on the big holiday post an underwhelming opening of 10.4 crores.

This year has been special as a big event film released in January in the form of Padmaavat. After an excellent but not grand opening- which has become characteristic of Bhansali films – of 19 crores, the film was able to gain footing proportionate to its costs on Republic Day holiday with 32 crores which is a growth of almost 68%. Padmaavat has breached the 200 crore mark by the end of the second weekend and has made Republic Day release at par with Diwali and non-Salman Khan Eid as far as box office is concerned.

It is conceded that Padmaavat had the most unique release circumstances where the very causes that led it to enjoy strong buzz for weeks also deterred its business at the end. However to create audience’s appetite in its favor both organically and driven by PR machinery is almost a qualification for every big event films. Padmaavat has perceptively shown the way for the first big movie of the year to release in the first month itself and, in the process, creates another release date for such films outside the three major festival periods. Co-incidentally, January has been a blessing in disguise for Hrithik Roshan as his films have invariably emerged successful be it his debut film Kaho Na Pyaar Hain (amidst competition from Aamir’s Mela and SRK’s Phir Bhi Dil Hain Hindustani), Agneepath or his last outing Kaabil. It is hoped that with Super 30 he consolidates his hold over January/Republic Day release date and regularly delivers the first big release of the year.

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