It’s that time of the year again when both the film industry and the audience wait for big-ticket movies.
Until 2004, the Diwali weekend was considered Yash Chopra’s domain, with films starring Shah Rukh Khan hitting the screens. But subsequent years have seen films even with actors like Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgan doing very well. This year, too, films starring them, Action Replayy and Golmaal 3 respectively, will open on Diwali Friday – making it these actors’ third festive outing. The first film is a romantic comedy, while the second is an outright comedy. At stake is Rs 75 crore, the amount producers spent on making the film.
The October-December quarter is the most crucial for Bollywood, explains trade analyst Taran Adarsh. “Most big films release during these three months because of the festivals, Diwali being more significant than Dussehra and Christmas,” he said. “People are in a celebratory mood, so they are willing to spend more on everything, including films.” Both films this year are entertainers, so multiplexes hope to make good money, said Sunil Punjabi, CEO, Cinemax Multiplexes. “Business-wise, this period sees 30 to 40 per cent more ticket sales than during other times of the year,” he said. But while most producers and directors would like to time their films’ releases with the festival of lights, there’s space only for two. “Last year, three films opened simultaneously on Wednesday. But by Friday evening, the contest was only between All The Best and Blue, while Main Aur Mrs Khanna was completely sidelined,” says Adarsh.
Another reason Golmaal 3 and Action Replayy are eagerly awaited is the lack of good films in recent times, notes Jaipur-based distributor Raj Bansal. “The releases in the past few weeks have disappointed audiences. So the public is looking forward to these films. After Dabangg, there’s a huge potential for the Diwali releases, which have Rs 100 crore riding on them,” he said. He expects at least 98 per cent occupancy for the films during the two clear weeks until Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish releases on November 19.
“Many new theatres have opened so this will certainly be reflected in the growth of audiences this festive season,” says Shaaminder Malik, a trade consultant based in Ghaziabad, which has 22 multiplexes for a population of 25 lakh.
The industry is also looking beyond Diwali, to films releasing later in the year, such as Farah Khan’s Rs 50-crore extravaganza, Tees Maar Khan, which opens this Christmas. Aamir Khan scored a Christmas hat trick with Taare Zameen Par, Ghajini and 3 Idiots, which hit bull’s eye at the box-office for the past three years. “After Aamir’s three super-hits, Christmas has also emerged as a very lucrative slot for movies,” said Punjabi.