They may not be on talking terms, but Yash Raj Films has found a unique way to bring Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan together. The production house has pitched their two biggest films of the year — Salman’s Ek Tha Tiger (ETT) and the untitled Diwali release starring SRK — as a package deal of sorts to distributors.
The SRK-Katrina Kaif-Anushka Sharma starrer releases in November, but YRF is already asking exhibitors to pre-book it along with ETT. “Which exhibitor would turn down the offer? Almost 70 per cent theatres have already pre-booked Shah Rukh’s film,” says an industry insider.
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Many feel that this might be a strategy by YRF to leave minimum single screens available for Ajay Devgn’s Son Of Sardar (SOS) that also releases on Diwali (November 13). Akshaye Rathi, who owns a chain of single-screen theatres across central India, says, “When a producer has multiple big films, they offer them as a package. There’s no pressure from YRF.”
The issue doesn’t affect multiplex owners. “It’s not a pre-condition (from YRF). Generally, three big films release during Diwali. So, it’s not like we won’t screen SOS,” says Ashish Saksena, COO, Big Cinemas.
The producers of SOS too are unperturbed.
“The audience will decide what film they want to watch. The days of exhibitors influencing people’s choice is history. Our film’s promo has received a great response, so we are not worried about competition,” says co-producer Vikram Malhotra, COO of Viacom 18 Motion Pictures.
When contacted, YRF spokesperson Rafiq Gangjee says, “Almost all exhibitors have been associated with YRF and our distribution offices for over 40 years. All of them would be happy to screen a Yash Chopra-directed film, which is coming after a gap of eight years.”
Ajay takes on SRK!
He has delivered two blockbusters in two years, with Singham (2011) and the more recent Bol Bachchan.
Now, Ajay Devgn hopes to light up this Diwali with Son of Sardar. And though the film will release with Shah Rukh’s next, Ajay clarifies that he isn’t “competing with anyone”.
About the film, his wife, Kajol, says, “I have seen bits of it. It looks fabulous. The trailer is good, but the film is even better.”