The question uppermost in the minds of the trade people today is: What if Salman Khan has to serve the five-year jail term pronounced by the Jodhpur court on 5th April in the endangered blackbuck hunting case? What will be the loss to the film industry if one of the biggest superstars of our times is in prison for the next five years?
First and foremost, the case is not as hopeless as it seems to be. The order of the court can be appealed against and it is anybody’s guess that Salman’s lawyers will appeal against it. In fact, while moving his bail application on 6th in the sessions court in Jodhpur, Salman’s lawyers also prayed for suspension of the sentence. The arguments for bail were heard by the sessions court but the judge said, he would pronounce his order the next day (7th, today). However, the transfer order for the district and sessions judge, along with 86 other judges, came on 6th evening. Therefore, Salman may be granted bail on Monday, April 9, instead of today (7th) as the new judge may take charge after a couple of days. Salman’s lawyers will then appeal against his conviction. Even if one were to assume that the first appeal would not be allowed, Salman can further appeal right upto the time he reaches the Supreme Court. This process could take many years.
Taking a look at Salman Khan’s film assignments, he has only one film – Race 3 – on the sets currently. Almost the entire work of Salman in the multi-star-cast film is complete. All he needs to shoot now is a song and, perhaps, a couple of patchwork shots. His dubbing is also still to be done. If Salman is granted early bail – which seems very likely – he can easily complete his part of the shooting for Race 3 in less than a month. Even otherwise, the film’s shooting would have to be completed very soon because its release has been scheduled for June 15 (Eid week). After the shooting, the stars of the film would need to complete their respective dubbing. Salman may not need more than a week to finish his dubbing, even if he dubs at a leisurely pace. With around Rs. 125 crore invested in Race 3, it can be said that that’s the money riding on the actor right now.
Luckily, all the other films, Salman has been signed for, are in the pre-production stage. That is to say, their shootings haven’t begun. In other words, there would be no continuity problems for these films, which would’ve been the case had Salman shot partly for them. In case Salman has to serve his sentence very soon (again, very unlikely), the three films he was committed to doing – Dabangg 3, Bharat and Kick 2 – will not start. So far, time rather than money has been invested in the three aforenamed films – time has been spent on scripting the films and other pre-production work. In case other actors have been signed for any or all the three films, that’s not a big deal because the signing amounts paid to them can always be adjusted in other films or asked to be returned.
But what will film business be like, without Salman starrers hitting the screens? Salman’s films mostly prove to be blockbusters at the ticket windows. Whether it was Tiger Zinda Hai in 2017 or Sultan in 2016 or even Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Bajrangi Bhaijaan in 2015, his films invariably set the cash registers ringing. With the exception of Tubelight last year and Jai Ho in 2014 (the same year in which Salman delivered the blockbuster, Kick), all Salman’s films from 2010 have brought in tons of money at the turnstiles. Of the 12 films of Salman released in the last seven years, seven have been 100-crore-plus films (including Ek Tha Tiger which was Rs. 1 crore short of the 200-crore mark), two have been 200-crore-plus films, and three (Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai) have crossed the 300-crore mark.
Salman Khan usually has two releases every year. This year (2018), he will have just one release, Race 3. But he had planned three releases in 2019 – Dabangg 3, Bharat and Kick 2. Of his last four released films, three have been 300-crore-plus fares. Hence, it would be safe to assume that he would contribute at least Rs. 300 crore (net) (or, Rs. 400 crore gross, after adding 28% GST) to the box-office in 2018. In 2019, even if two of his three releases were to be 300-crore-plus fares and the third, a 200-crore-plus film, his contribution to the box-office could safely be assumed to be upwards of Rs. 900 crore (net) or Rs. 1,150 crore (gross), at least! In 2020, 2021 and 2022, he would easily generate revenue of Rs. 600 crore (net) or, in other words, Rs. 750 crore (gross) per year if he were to have two releases each year. Taking into account inflation, his contribution to the box-office from 2018 to 2022 would, therefore, be Rs. 3,800 to Rs. 4,000 crore!! That is the loss Bollywood is looking at if Salman were to not get bail.
Of course, that’s an eventuality that may never arise. But the calculations above show the worth of Salman Khan at the box-office. After all, he is probably the only superstar, besides Aamir Khan, to bring in huge numbers at the ticket windows in film after film.
In the above calculations, one has not even considered the Overseas box-office collections of his films. One has also not taken into account the revenues from sale of satellite rights, digital rights and audio rights of the nine or ten films he will deliver till 2022. The gross figure for Overseas business of his films could be an equivalent of Rs. 1,500 crore, and for satellite, digital and audio rights, another Rs. 1,500 crore. This means, if Salman is not behind bars, he may end up contributing approximately Rs. 7,000 crore to the film industry (Indian box-office Rs. 4,000 crore, Overseas box-office Rs. 1,500 crore, non-theatrical revenues Rs. 1,500 crore).
Thank God for Salman’s impending bail application! Once bail is granted, the actor will ensure that Bollywood is in the pink of health. After all, if he can single-handedly bring in Rs. 7,000 crore from his films in the next five years, he is precious. Since Bollywood has just a couple of superstars like him, Salman Khan is actually the endangered species.