Sports-themed films seems to be hitting the right angle with the audience.

At least three of the major hits of 2016 included films which had sports or sportspersons as a theme and had managed to rake in over ₹100 crore in box office collection.

If numbers are anything to go by then Aamir Khan’s latest offering Dangal has already crossed ₹295.14 crore in less than 13 days of its release in box office collection.

Others like Salman Khan-starrer Sultan had clocked ₹300.45 crore during the film’s lifetime, while Sushant Singh-starrer and cricketer MS Dhoni’s biopic, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story had collected ₹133.04 crore.

Other sports based film which was released in 2016 was Azhar based on cricketer-turned-politician Mohd. Azharuddin’s life too had managed to collect a revenue of ₹40 crore during its lifetime. Industry watchers note that sports-themed films, especially biopics, are winning applause across the country as there is a curiosity among the audience to track the life of their beloved sportsman.

Besides, increased distribution, use of technology and improved multiplex penetration too, are taking the sports and sports personalities closer to their audience.

“Dangal has been a very special movie for us. As a studio we aim at making movies that not only entertains but also motivates the audience and Dangal encompasses that. The Phogat story is one that is not only relateable but also inspiring as well. The response to the film has been overwhelming and word of mouth on this film has been extraordinary. We are confident that this will help sustain the film longer,” Amrita Pandey, VP, Studio, Disney India told BusinessLine .

According to online ticketing brand BookMyShows’ consumer insights the trailer of Sultan was most rated on BookMyShow, followed by MS Dhoni- The Untold Story.

Films like MS Dhoni invested heavily into technology like VFX to recreate historical match footages. Firms like Prime Focus were roped in to create special effects.

Speaking on the technological advances pulled off on M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story , Niraj Sanghai, Vice President - Film Sales (India), Prime Focus said: “Until recently, some may have believed that producing a VFX heavy film along the lines of Avengers or Fast and Furious in India was a distant possibility. However, we made it happen here.” The company said from the earliest stages of pre-production it was clear that recreating the cricketing highlights of Dhoni's career was going to be a key component of the film.

Prime Focus along with film director Neeraj Pandey invested heavily on creating special effects which too added to the films overall charisma.

Star power

PV Sunil, CEO and Director, Carnival Cinemas notes that, “There is a global phenomenon that people prefer watching true life event based films, biopics of achievers and sometime underdog films to totally fictional films. But star power also plays a major role in pulling crowd to the cinemas. Be it Dangal, Sultaan, or Chak De, they all did better than expected. We also liked MS Dhoni, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mary Kom , classic film Lagaan , social issue-based Iqbaal and others also because in all of them one thing is common and that is emotional connect throughout the film. Now audience is eagerly waiting to watch Sachin, a co-production of Carnival Pictures with 200 Not Out . We are a sports loving nation and these films spread awareness about particular sports to the masses in the most entertaining way”.

Previously, sports biopics such as Bhaag Milkha Bhaag based on sprinter Milkha Singh’s life had clocked a box-office collection of ₹100 crore. Others like boxer Mary Kom’s biopic too, had a decent box-office run. The Priyanka Chopra-starrer too, had reportedly clocked a collection of ₹60 crore.