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Tubelight box office failure: Will distributors approach Salman Khan to get losses reimbursed?

Salman Khan and director Kabir Khan reportedly sold the film to the distributors at an enormous price, which has become a bone of contention now.

Keyur Seta

Salman Khan and the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr have been an unbeatable combination the past few years. This is not just because his films are released on the festive occasion every year, but also because they go on to become blockbusters.

Unfortunately, the tide has turned this year. Tubelight, directed by Kabir Khan, which was released the weekend immediately preceding Eid, on 23 June, has performed way below expectation.

The film was reportedly made at a budget of Rs100 crore (excluding Salman Khan’s fees). But as per BoxOfficeIndia.com, it made only Rs98.95 crore in the first six days. One would have thought a big Salman Khan-starrer would have reached this figure much earlier, probably within the weekend itself.

In this unexpected twist in the box-office game, it is the distributors who are left staring at severe losses.

Tubelight review: Salman tries too hard in Kabir Khan's low-voltage drama

Komal Nahta, a senior trade analyst, said on his TV show, “Believe it or not, Salman Khan has earned more than Rs150 crore in this film on the table before the release. Actually, Rs150 crore is a small number. He has probably made Rs180-Rs200 crore. All-India theatrical rights have been sold in the region of approximately Rs130-135 crore. The satellite rights are sold for at least Rs100 crore. The music rights have brought approximately Rs10 crore.”

Nahta highlighted the magnitude of the loss. "Such heavy loss has hardly been encountered in recent times by any film, especially when it has starred the top hero of the country. The loss has been so high that in filmi parlance, we call it a back-breaking loss."

Nahta believes that Salman Khan should reimburse the losses incurred by the distributors. “Salman and Kabir Khan as co-producers have earned Rs150 crore, Rs175 crore or Rs200 crore as profit. So, it is in the fitness of things that Salman should call the distributors and should, if not the entire amount, refund at least 50% of it,” he said.

In fact, a distributor, on the condition of anonymity, told Cinestaan.com that they would be approaching Salman Khan to get their losses reimbursed. “Of course there has been an impact on the industry due to the loss," he said. "We need to see how can we tackle the loss. We are sure we will recover the money through the films which are releasing in the future. We will also approach Salman Khan and request him to help ease the losses to an extent. The expectations were high. But there are films that go wrong and there are films that go right.”

Nahta said the loss could very well have been controlled. "Such films can perform average [business] provided they are made at a controlled budget and sold to distributors at controlled prices. This film was sold to distributors at a price assuming that it is going to be a blockbuster. At least 50% of the investment gone down the drain is not a small loss by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.

Talking to Cinestaan.com, film business analyst Girish Johar said, “The expectations were very high from the film. It has not performed up to those expectations. And the collections are not very good.”

In fact, the film is taking long to reach the three-figure mark, which is surprising. “It is one of the few recent Salman films which hasn’t collected Rs100 crore in the first four days. Although the weekend was decent, as the weekdays are progressing the trend is not that positive,” he pointed out.

He added that Tubelight should not have been released on the Eid weekend. “I personally feel the film was probably not an Eid release," Johar said. "Salman fans normally want him to play magnum, larger-than-life roles, doing those stunts and the bhai-giri or Salman-giri. He was not doing these things, though he played the lovable, vulnerable, simple guy well. I loved him in the part. But I think fans were not expecting this kind of a film. So, there was a complete error of judgement on that part.”

Johar also believes that though the film was sold at a high price, one should wait for the final picture. “I don’t know the details, but as per sources, yes, it was purchased for a handsome price. But I believe that as the film is just in the first week of its release, it’s too early to tell,” he said.