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Salman Khan's sentence gives film producers and distributors the jitters

While Khan has nearly completed shooting for Race 3 (2018), he has three other projects in the pipeline — Dabangg 3, Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick 2 and Ali Abbas Zafar’s Bharat.

Mayur Lookhar

Leading Hindi film producers have broken out in a cold sweat after actor Salman Khan's conviction and sentencing in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case by a court in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

If Khan does end up spending the next five years behind bars, it could make a big dent in the box office prospects of some producers.

Khan has nearly finished shooting for Race 3 (2018) and has three other projects in the pipeline — home production Dabangg 3, Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick 2 and Ali Abbas Zafar’s Bharat.

Race 3 (2018) is being produced by Ramesh Taurani and Salman Khan Films and is set to be released on 15 June. Of all the producers affected by the verdict, the one sweating the most is likely to be Taurani, as Race 3 still needs 10-15 days of shooting.

Trade experts say Khan going to jail could hit the industry to the tune of Rs900 crore, though, to be fair, most of it is just notional loss.

“On an average, the budget of a Salman Khan film is upwards of Rs100 crore," explained film exhibitor Akshay Rathi. "Save for Tubelight (2017), the box office nett value of each of his films in recent years has been around Rs250-300 crore.

"In Sanjay Dutt's case [Dutt was convicted under the Arms Act in a case dating back to the 1993 Mumbai riots and blasts], the court gave him a month to complete his pending film, Policegiri (2013), and other work. If Khan gets bail, fine. If not, the producers of Race 3 have cause for worry as they have already shot 95% of the film."

If Khan does get a grace period to complete Race 3, Taurani will heave a sigh of relief. But the other films planned with Khan may not see the light of day. The notional loss to the industry then would be about Rs900 crore.

Trade analyst Atul Mohan echoed similar thoughts. “Leaving aside Tubelight (2017), on an average a Salman Khan film rakes in around Rs300 crore nett at the box office. He has been targeting two films a year. So, on an average, you are talking about the industry losing a collection of Rs600 crore a year."

Mohan said that apart from the box office, there are satellite and digital revenues as well, so the total loss will be not just for the film producers but for the entertainment industry as a whole.

Khan was expected to wrap up the shooting of Race 3 and begin work on his TV show, Dus Ka Dum, followed by Dabangg 3 and Bharat. As per a report in the Deccan Chronicle newspaper, Khan was eyeing 26 January 2019 to release Dabangg 3. Bharat is apparently locked for Eid 2019.

The promos of Dus Ka Dum are already being aired. A source close to the show said, “Sony Entertainment Television was targeting a June launch. The show will be a daily. So, there is a huge investment.”

An industry source claimed Khan was to be paid Rs3 crore per episode. Officials at Sony TV refused to comment.

That’s not all. If Khan does go to jail for five years, it will put a question mark on his lucrative deal with online streaming giant Amazon. Though not confirmed, an industry source said the deal is worth Rs900 crore over 10 years.

As reported earlier, the deal with Salman Khan Ventures includes a few of his earlier titles and his new releases starting with Tubelight. These were to be premiered on Amazon Prime Video after their theatrical release and two months before their television premieres or any other form of distribution.

Vijay Subramanian, head of content at Amazon Prime Video, refused to comment. “At the moment, I don’t have anything to say,” he said.

The next few days will be anxious ones for film producers, TV channels, and Amazon.