The year 2022 has seen a number of films bombing at the box office, both in India and abroad. Many big-budget, big-budget action extravaganzas have fallen flat upon their theatrical release. In many cases, bad word of mouth resulting from negative reviews contributed to the cause. However, these movies have seen a resurgence upon their digital release, with many of them topping the charts on their respective platforms. Back to this curious new trend. Read also : Kangana Ranaut defends himself after the failure of Dhaakad at the box office
There have been few superhero movies in recent times that have done as badly as Morbius. The film about Marvel’s titular antihero was universally panned by critics. My own review called it “an expensive April Fool’s joke”. Despite all this, Sony Pictures released it twice. He flopped both times. Cut to four months later, the film landed on Netflix, where it quickly began dominating the service’s Top Ten Global Movies list. It has been in the top 2 spots on the list for almost two weeks now.
Morbius has several parallels at home in Hindi cinema, which has seen its fair share of flops this year. John Abraham’s Attack, Kangana Ranaut’s Dhaakad and Aditya Roy Kapur’s Rashtra Kavach OM were all box office disappointments, winning only ₹22 crore, ₹8 crore, and ₹9 crores, respectively. The combined budgets of these films were ₹200 crore. But each of these movies was the number one movie on Zee5, the platform where they all released after theatrical release. Dhaakad, one of the biggest flops of Kangana’s career, racked up 60 million viewing minutes in a week after it dropped on the streaming platform.
The single common thread running through most of these films is their genre. Most of them are big-budget action movies or thrillers. Streaming platforms say the positive response to the genre as a whole on OTT has helped these titles. Manish Kalra, Chief Commercial Officer of ZEE5 India said, “From RRR to Attack and Dhaakad to Rashtra Kavach OM, Action as Genre Works has received an overwhelming response from audiences on the platform. At ZEE5, we are extremely happy to have managed to meet the expectations of the public with a diversified content that appeals to them.
Manish exemplifies the latest version of his platform – Khuda Haafiz, star of Vidyut Jammwal: Chapter 2 – Agni Pariksha. “It continued to log 77 million streaming minutes within a week of its release (on OTT) even after its theatrical release,” he says. Khuda Haafiz 2 was a box office disappointment. Despite a ₹Budget of 30 crores, he only managed to do ₹14 crores since its theatrical release.
But that still doesn’t explain why films that have already been rejected on one medium find takers on another. “Some people watch a movie on OTT that they just didn’t want to spend $200 on a movie ticket. But when it comes to streaming and they already have a subscription, they watch it. It expands the reach of those movies. And among those people, there are a lot of people who find it fun, at least in a casual way,” says an exhibitor.
Some, however, advise taking this trend with a grain of salt. “The number of streaming platforms should be interpreted correctly. The number of minutes doesn’t always tell you how many people watched the movie. Someone may have watched only 15 minutes out of curiosity. And a major movie always tends on a platform within a week of its release,” says business analyst Atul Mohan.
But even after taking that into account, there’s no denying that these films reach a wider audience due to their subsequent digital release. And being released by word of mouth weeks after the original reviews, they find new fans, who give these ‘failed’ films a second life.