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Bollywood hits rough patch

Nithya Subramanian

NEW DELHI, April 15

BOLLYWOOD is still searching for that elusive hit to prop up the industry. And, the first three months of 2002 have been quite disastrous, with the film industry losing close to Rs 30 crore.

During the period, about 13 films hit the screens across the country with total costs touching about Rs 80 crore, while revenues stood at around Rs 50 crore. More than half the films released during the three-month period flopped miserably.

Industry pundits said that about two films did average business and there was just one super hit — Tips Films' Raaz and another hit - a small budget N. Chandra flick - Style.

"The three months have not seen any big budget releases. But the fact that even these are not able to recover money is disturbing," said an industry analyst.

Budgets for these films have been in the range of Rs 2.5 crore to Rs 8 crore.

According to Mr Sanjay Bhutiani, General Manager, Leo Entertainment: "The audiences are looking for innovative themes and storylines. These films have not been different and, therefore, have failed miserably in the box office."

Revenues from music have also dipped sharply. "Sales of cassettes and CDs have fallen sharply as there is no music," said Mr Bhutiani. This, despite music companies slashing prices in the last few months. Music companies have also stopped paying huge money for acquiring rights.

"Earlier, music rights for films such as Devdas were acquired by Universal for about Rs 12 crore. Now the average price for acquisition of rights has come down to a few crores," said an industry analyst.

During the first three months, revenues from theatre generated close to Rs 31 crore, while music garnered just Rs 14 crore. The rest were from in-cinema ads, sale of DVD, VCD and cable rights.

Despite a lacklustre beginning, the dream factories in Mumbai continue to churn out productions. While Aankhen — the IDBI-financed project — is doing well in parts of the country, the industry is hoping that big budget movies such as Devdas and Suraj Barjatya's Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon and Yash Chopra's Mujhse Dosti Karoge will also do well.

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