Telugu cinema in Q1 2024: More misses than hits

If not for the mega success of 'Hanu-Man' and 'Tillu Square', this would’ve been a terrible year for Tollywood, feel trade experts.

ByHaricharan Pudipeddi

Published May 14, 2024 | 10:30 AMUpdatedMay 14, 2024 | 10:30 AM

Telugu cinema in first quarter of 2024

The first quarter of 2024 hasn’t been great for Telugu cinema at the ticket window.

Of the 100-odd releases (including dubbed films) so far, the industry has only managed to produce two bonafide blockbusters in the form of Prasanth Varma’s superhero film Hanu-Man (2024) and Siddhu Jonnalagadda’s Tillu Square (2024).

With most star-studded films failing to create any major impact at the box office, the Telugu cinema had to rely on young actors like Teja Sajja (of Hanu-Man-fame) and Siddhu Jonnalagadda (from Tillu Square) to draw audiences in hordes to theatres.

If not for the mega success of these movies, this would have been a terrible year for the Telugu film industry, feel trade experts.

Failure of star-studded films

Venkatesh's 'Saindhav' was a BO dud

Venkatesh’s ‘Saindhav’ was a BO dud. (Supplied)

Every industry relies big time on its star-driven projects (like it or not) to work at the box office.

These star-studded films draw masses and when they don’t work out as expected, it leaves a major dent from a business perspective.

In 2024, highly anticipated releases like Mahesh Babu‘s Guntur Kaaram, Venkatesh’s Saindhav, Ravi Teja‘s Eagle, Nagarjuna‘s Naa Saami Ranga, and Vijay Deverakonda‘s The Family Star didn’t create the intended impact business-wise.

“A lot was riding on these star-studded films. Except Naa Saami Ranga (an average grosser), the other two films turned out to be major duds,” distributor Janardhan tells South First.

Quickly, he elaborates, “The tepid response to these Sankranthi releases affected the business big time and it marked the beginning of the year on a very poor note. For the Telugu market, Sankranthi is a major festival. When the movies don’t rake in the moolah, it is not good news.”

Vijay Deverakonda in Family Star

Vijay Deverakonda’s ‘The Family Star’ didn’t meet the expectations. (Supplied)

Thankfully, Hanu-Man made up for the poor show of the other three Sankranthi releases with its unexpected, gargantuan success.

Released alongside tough competition, HanuMan emerged as the biggest success story in Telugu cinema in recent years.

“Initially, Hanu-Man struggled to get enough screens because of three other big releases. For the first two weeks, the film had a limited screen count. But, thanks to the phenomenal response all over, it picked up steam and managed to gross over ₹330 crore during its theatrical run,” Janardhan adds.

Hanu-Man is a superhero original story of a young boy earning special powers after he stumbles upon a divine pearl.

The movie was a box-office sensation and even shook the Hindi market with its fabulous response. In its first week alone, the Hindi dubbed version collected around ₹23 crore.

Tillu Square, on the other hand, grossed over ₹100 crore during its run.

It was also the first ₹100 crore grosser for Siddhu. The makers have already confirmed the third part of the franchise.

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Young heroes to the rescue

A poster from Prasanth Varma's Hanu Man

Prasanth Varma’s ‘Hanu-Man’ grossed over ₹300 core worldwide. (Supplied)

With the mega success of Hanu-Man and Tillu Square, it became evident that audiences have no bias only towards established stars, especially with large fan bases.

The first quarter of 2024 saw a young breed of actors like Teja Sajja and Siddhu Jonnalagadda being embraced by Telugu cinema and audiences in a big way.

A producer, on the condition of anonymity, says, “A big star film will always guarantee a good opening, thanks to fans. But the film’s sustained run will always rest on its content and not the star.”

He adds, “That’s what happened with Guntur Kaaram and Saindhav. On the other hand, audiences are hungry for good and different content. This is precisely why films like HanuMan and Tillu Square struck gold at the box office.”

The producer went on to add that this is not the first time films of young stars have been appreciated and celebrated.

telugu cinema in first quarter of 2024 Tillu Square

‘Tillu Square’ is the first ₹100 crore grosser for Siddhu. (Supplied)

“Over the last few years, quite a few films featuring a younger lot of actors have been big hits. It’s a refreshing change because as producers we don’t have to always go after stars. When coupled with good content and overall entertainment value, these small films can also do wonders at the ticket window,” he notes.

Some of the other notable non-star Telugu releases of the year include Sundaram Master, Gaami, and Om Bheem Bush.

Dubbed Malayalam films like Premalu and Manjummel Boys also did exceptionally well in the two Telugu states.

Released by SS Rajamouli’s son SS Karthikeya, the Telugu version of Premalu went on to gross over ₹15 crore in Tollywood.

Also Read: Ram Charan’s ‘Game Changer’ likely to be pushed to Sankranthi 2025

Films to look forward to in 2024

Allu Arjun in Pushpa 2

Allu Arjun in ‘Pushpa 2’. (Supplied)

With most A-lister Telugu stars missing out on not having a release in the first half of 2024, the trade is hopeful of reviving itself strongly in the second half of the year as films like Devara, Game Changer, and Pushpa 2 are lined up for release in the next few months.

“Both Jr NTR and Ram Charan haven’t had a release since RRR (2022). Allu Arjun has been stuck with Pushpa 2: The Rule. When such big stars are caught up with a project for too long, the industry suffers with no massive releases. Telugu industry is betting big on the Pushpa sequel as the hype around its release is unbelievable,” said Janardhan.

The next three months look very promising for Telugu cinema as all the highly anticipated biggies have locked the release dates.

The biggest of all has to be Prabhas’ Kalki 2898-AD with Nag Ashwin. The film is slated for a June 27 release.

Pushpa 2 and Nani’s Saripodhaa Sanivaaram will be released in August.

September will see Pawan Kalyan’s OG hit the screens.

As per trade sources, there’s over ₹1,500 crore riding on these films that are hopeful of striking big at the box office.

Pushpa 2, which has already done business over ₹500 crore, has to be the most exciting film among these upcoming releases in Telugu.

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