The controversy around actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam, released in Hindi as Vishwaroop, may be a blessing in disguise for the film's fate in the northern states.
Distributors and theatre owners expect the film, which released in 1,000 cinema halls across India on Friday, to do well over the weekend, buoyed by the buzz around it so far.
While movies from down south rarely do good business in north India, Haasan's flick, which has run into trouble over its alleged portrayal of the Muslim community, may be an exception.
"We expect the occupancy to go up to 70% over the weekend. People are interested in the film," a PVR spokesperson said.
"The negative publicity has increased footfall. It is on a par with Race 2 in terms of business and audience interest, which is uncommon," said Yogesh Raizada, corporate head, Wave Cinemas.
"South Indian films usually witness 5-10% occupancy in the north, but first day figures for Vishwaroop are 20-25%," said distributor Joginder Mahajan.
But in Tamil Nadu - the epicentre of the row - the ban on the film continued as formal talks between Haasan and protesting Muslim groups in the state failed to take off.
The groups refused to discuss the issue with representatives of the actor, who is in Mumbai to promote his movie.
The meeting had been arranged on behest of chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who intervened to settle the row.
On Thursday, Haasan said he had incurred a loss of Rs. 30-60 crore because of the delays in the movie's release in Tamil Nadu.